Cheney Free Press 

Cheney slow pitch seeks playoff berth

Blackhawks need better defense to compliment hitting and pitching


Last updated 10/12/2023 at 10:01am

Matthew Stephens

The Blackhawks slow-pitch team beat the Ferris Saxons 7-6 on Oct. 9, and beat East Valley 11-1 the following day. They finished the season with six wins and 11 losses.

CHENEY - Winning three of their last four games, Cheney slow pitch softball has worked itself back into playoff contention.

Cheney (4-7) is tied with Ferris following a 7-6 victory Oct. 9 over the Saxons. The Blackhawks hosted East Valley (3-7) on Oct. 10 in the GSL finale with all kinds of post-season implications.

Should Cheney and Ferris‚ who played Gonzaga Prep, remain tied, there would be a tiebreaker Oct. 12 for the sixth and final seed.

The Cheney resurgence has been keyed - finally - by better defensive play, according to Coach Gary Blake.

"All season long we've been hitting well, we've just have not really played anything remotely what I call solid defense," Blake said.

Early in the season, Cheney was averaging 7-8 errors a contest. In the last four games, which include a 12-8 win over Gonzaga Prep and a 22-3 rout of Rogers, those numbers have been cut significantly.

Both pitching and hitting have been solid.

Olivia Huffman, who has worked every inning to date, is one of the best pitchers in the Greater Spokane League. Overall, Huffman is averaging 70% strikes of all the pitches she's thrown.

"Up to tonight - these are stats through last week's games - she had walked only 17 batters in 15 games," Blake said, referencing Cheney's win over Ferris. "And last week, she threw 79.4% strikes and walked nobody in three games."

Cheney as a team is batting over .400 per game with Mia Ashcroft leading that department at .589. Not very far behind is Serenity Wells at .537, Millie Beito .536 and Sophia Falter 529.

"I've got four people hitting over .500 for the season," Blake said.

Blake suggested the team is "probably right about in the standings where we belong," having beaten the teams below them but not having earned a quality win against one of the top three or four teams in the league.

The gear that needs to mesh better for Cheney to extend its season is fielding.

"They're going to get hits," Blake said. "But you need to make the outs that are there to be made."

Every hit is not going to be a clear hit, Blake said.

"They're going to hit some to your fielders and the fielders need to make those plays," he said, noting, which, if executed, might lead to an extended season.

Should Cheney advance, it will do so as the No. 6 seed.

The Blackhawks would likely play the top team in either the GSL - Mt. Spokane or University - or Mid-Columbia Conference champ, Chiawana.


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