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Danny Rowton has been a key contributor for Shadle Park at the plate and in the field. (Dan Pelle)

Rowton a player

If Danny Rowton had to pick one sport to play, there’s no hesitation which he’d select.

The Shadle Park senior two-sport standout loves football more than baseball. A two-way, three-year starter at running back and safety, Rowton plans to play football at Whitworth University. If it works out, though, he’d also like to play baseball.

He’s hopeful to experience more winning at Whitworth than he did in football at Shadle. The Highlanders won just five games in three years, one each the last two seasons.

That doesn’t mean he loved the sport any less or that he didn’t have fun playing with his friends.

“We had good chemistry,” Rowton said of the football team. “In a couple more years they will be good. The program’s headed in the right direction.”

A second team All-Greater Spokane League baseball pick last year, Rowton is tied for the league lead in home runs (four) and leads the Highlanders in hitting (.435, 20 for 46). It was so important to Highlanders coach Ron Brooks to have Rowton in the middle of things this spring that he decided to use him in the leadoff spot.

After opening league with five straight wins, Shadle hit a rough patch, winning just two of its next nine. So last week, Brooks made a defensive change, switching Rowton from shortstop to third and moving Evan Douglas to short.

How did Rowton, a three-year starter, react?

“He’s a class act,” Brooks said. “He just wants to do anything that will help the team.”

Rowton wants to be an elementary teacher and coach some day. He has Brooks to thank.

“Coach Brooks has inspired me to be a teacher,” Rowton said. “I want to be a coach like him. He’s inspired me in so many ways. I want to be just like him.”

When told what Rowton said, Brooks smiled. Rowton, he said, ranks among the best student athletes Brooks has coached in 27 years at Shadle.

“He’s a hard working, loyal, dependable young man,” Brooks said. “He’s always going to give it his best. He’s a team guy. He’s not an excuse maker. He just goes out there and does what he can for the benefit of others. In terms of the quality of kids I’ve coached over the years he’s right at the top. He’s kind of one of those kids who comes through and you can take for granted a lot of times, but when they’re gone you wish they were back.”

Rowton finished his career with 1,266 rushing yards and 16 receptions for 170 yards. He also had four interceptions. He was named second team All-GSL at RB. He gained 560 yards last fall before having to miss the final two games when he broke his hand.

Despite the injury, Rowton kept playing at safety. Wearing a cast, he played one handed and had an interception.

First-year football coach Alan Stanfield couldn’t praise Rowton enough for his character and attitude.

“He was voted our team’s most inspirational player,” Stanfield said. “That reward isn’t a reflection of him being the best football player on the team – which he was. In a tough season he was a guy that was always positive and buying into what we were doing. He’ll be a lot better in college when he can concentrate on one side of the ball.”

Leagues conclude

Weather permitting, the GSL finishes up league play this week with District 8 4A and 3A tournaments beginning Monday. All of Monday’s games were postponed because of rain and rescheduled for today.

• The district formats are different this year. In both 4A and 3A, the top seeds automatically advance to regionals.

In 4A, Ferris (13-2), which clinched the top seed last week, goes directly to the district title game, May 6 at Avista Stadium. The second seed takes on No. 5 and the third and fourth seeds face off in district openers Monday at Avista. The winners face off May 4, with the winner playing Ferris in the title game. First-round losers play a loser-out game May 4. The top three finishers advance to regionals.

In 3A, the top seed advances to a best-of-3 series at Avista to decide seeding to regionals. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds meet in a play-in game Monday. That winner plays the second seed, with that winner going on to square off against the top seed in the best-of-3 series. The top two teams move on to regionals.

With two games remaining, University (12-3) has a one-game lead over Mt. Spokane (11-4) in the battle for the coveted top 3A seed. Although Mt. Spokane swept U-Hi, if the teams finish tied for the No. 1 seed a playoff would be necessitated because an automatic regional berth is at stake. The playoff would be held Friday at a neutral site.

U-Hi finishes at home today at Central Valley and with two games against Mead while Mt. Spokane concludes at home today against Shadle Park and with two against Ferris.

• The Great Northern League also concludes this week. League-leading Pullman (13-2), which has won 13 straight, needs just one win in its final three games to clinch the league title and top seed to district.

District begins May 3. The title game is May 7 at Avista. The top two teams advance to a subregional with the Central Washington Athletic Conference.

Statistically speaking

Including Mt. Spokane’s 3-1 loss to Shadle Park on Friday, the Wildcats’ pitching staff has allowed just six runs and nine hits the last four games. … University has won eight straight since losing 9-8 to Mt. Spokane on April 4. A three-run, inside-the-park home run by Thomas Wakem helped U-Hi keep its streak going in a 10-3 win over Central Valley last week. It was Wakem’s fourth homer. … Teammate Hayden Powell, who has filled in admirably at catcher with Brandon Byers lost to a broken foot in wrestling, had the best week, going 9 for 13 (.692) with seven runs. He’s hitting .533 overall. … Wakem continues to lead the league at .627 with a league-leading 39 RBIs. He also leads in runs (29) and is tied for the lead in homers (four) and doubles (10).

U-Hi shortstop Nick Motsinger (.453) has made just two errors in 17 games. … Levi Johnson of Mead pitched eight innings in a no-decision against Gonzaga Prep while allowing just three hits, striking out eight and walking none. … Coeur d’Alene pitcher Jake Periera improved to 6-0 (1.10 ERA in 31 innings) in the Vikings’ 10-0 win over Lake City on Saturday. … The Vikings (6-0 league) got an assist from Post Falls, which posted its first 5A Inland Empire League victory when the Trojans salvaged a split against second-place Lewiston (5-3) on Saturday. Zack Reeder hit a one-out homer to tie the score at 9-9 and Tyler Shelton followed with a run-scoring single with two outs as Post Falls topped Lewiston 10-9. … In the opener, Lewiston pitcher Beau Kerns picked up the win as the starter but also returned to the mound in relief after moving to left field in the sixth. He had 12 strikeouts including striking out the final two batters to preserve a 10-6 win.

Ferris senior pitcher Spencer Ansett leads the GSL in wins (6-0), is tied for first in ERA with Johnson of Mead (1.40) and is second in strikeouts with 54, five behind leader Kelly Fitzpatrick of Mt. Spokane. U-Hi teammates Tim McBroom and Cody McGlocklin are each 5-1.