For whatever reason, the injury bug continues to bite the Mt. Spokane baseball team.
Wildcats pitching star Nic Fowler tore a ligament in his elbow in his first start this year and is done pitching for the season. Four games later against Gonzaga Prep, sophomore Carson Blumenthal took a line drive off his wrist and suffered a hairline fracture that could cost him four to six weeks.
“Oh, my gosh, it must be something in the water, I guess,” said a bewildered coach Alex Schuerman. “It stinks, but you have to move forward and fight through adversity.”
A couple years ago, Mt. Spokane’s Mark Purser injured his arm and couldn’t throw. Then last year shortstop Jarek Cunningham missed nearly the entire season because of a torn knee ligament and Tyler Jackson struggled with a back injury.
Silver lining to this dark cloud: Jackson has been cleared at full strength and has caught four games and pitched in a couple.
“He’s been a diamond in the rough pitching,” said Schuerman.
The Wildcats (2-3 in the Greater Spokane League) have brought up their junior varsity ace and a freshman to fill the pitching void.
“Nic might hit for us later, but it’s a blow, no doubt,” said Schuerman. “It’s hard to lose someone who anchors your staff and could beat anyone on a given day.”
Weather permitting, GSL baseball teams play today and Wednesday. Central Valley and University (both 5-0) continue to stand atop the league.
•Speaking of injuries, West Valley of the Great Northern League has three. Dave Hauschild is recovering from a broken leg, Drew Clausen tore his labrum sliding into third base and Kyle Wagner has a torn rotator cuff.
The Eagles, coming off a doubleheader sweep of Riverside, play host to Pullman on Saturday in a twinbill between state qualifiers. WV lost to eventual state finalist East Valley-Yakima in the first round last year. The Greyhounds lost in the semifinals to champion Sehome in 2008 and wound up fourth.
On top at break
It’s spring break for the GSL – baseball excepted – and no better way for Mead softball than to enter it following back-to-back victories against teams it figured to battle for the league title.
The Panthers last Thursday toppled Central Valley 7-3 and on Friday beat University 5-4. Both had been unbeaten.
“I’ll tell you what, the girls were really excited and the parents were jacked,” said coach John Barrington.
But in typical coaching fashion, he added, “We feel good, but at the same time it’s still early.”
Top three batters in the order, Jill Pecka, Lauren Stewart and Breanna Lookabill, had two hits each against CV, Pecka with a three-run homer. Taneesha Pounder had a two-run double and No. 9 hitter Rachel Yuen scored twice and bunted home a run.
In the win over University, a seventh-inning Mead error led to two runs, enabling the Titans to tie the game. Following a leadoff walk and three whiffs on a bunt attempt, Regin Gallagher singled to right field. A passed ball and walk loaded the bases and Emma Barrington hit a little flare between the second baseman and right fielder for her second hit and the game winner. Lookabill doubled twice.
“There were balls hit all over the place; some were caught, some dropped in,” he said of the contest. “We got good pitching out of Alisha Meade both days.”
Barrington said earlier that players were feeling pressure to replace graduated seniors, particularly in the infield. The focus became to play relaxed, have fun and get better.
“We let them play and they came through,” he said. “It was important to win and know we can play with anybody. Now the question is, which teams improve more before we play the next time?”
Both Mead and U-Hi are 4-1, CV and Shadle Park are 3-1 at the break. Five other teams have at least two wins, including Ferris (3-2) and East Valley (3-3).
The Saxons are perhaps a surprise coming off a 1-19 season, but coach Laurie Smith had an inkling prior to the season. They have allowed no more than three runs in a game.
“We are young, with only one senior starter,” she said of a team that starts four sophomores and two freshmen. “We have kids who can swing it a bit and now 12 of 13 have played club ball.
“This year when practice is over, kids literally every night are saying hit me more balls. We’re making baby steps.”
Barry Olson coached Ferris to a state boys basketball tournament berth his lone season as interim coach in 2004-05. But he couldn’t duplicate that in three years as girls coach. Activities coordinator Mike Syron announced Olson’s resignation and said that initially the position will be posted in-building, but that likely it will have to go outside to fill. Olson, successful as a girls coach in Colorado, was 22-39 with back-to-back 6-14 seasons with the Saxons. … Anthony Luna, All-GSL football lineman from Gonzaga Prep, will play in this summer’s East-West All-Star game in Everett. His name had been omitted from the initial roster. … Colfax state championship coach Corey Baerlocher was at the helm of the “State” 1B-2A girls team during last weekend’s Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association “Queens of the Hardwood” All-State games in Bellevue. Colton’s Courtney Druffel played on the “City” team.