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Ferris, Mt. Spokane win first district softball crowns

Mt. Spokane and Ferris made fastpitch softball history Friday. Both earned their respective programs’ first district tournament championships, knocking off the top seeds in the process.

Third-seeded Mt. Spokane routed University 9-1 to capture the District 8 3A crown at Whitworth’s picturesque Marks Field. Second-seeded Ferris followed by handling No. 1 Mead 5-1 in the District 8 4A title game.

The Saxons, picked 10th (last) in the Greater Spokane League preseason poll, earned the top seed into next week’s 4A regional tournament. Mead awaits the winner of Tuesday’s Lewis and Clark/Central Valley game to determine the second and third seeds to regionals.

“It’s chemistry; this team is a family and we have each others’ backs,” Ferris coach Laurie Smith said. “Together we believed in ourselves and all of a sudden the community started believing in us and got behind us and we were able to pull out the (district) championship.”

Mt. Spokane 9, U-Hi 1

The Wildcats (16-5) took advantage of University starting pitcher Devynne Johnson’s wildness and shaky Titans’ defense to build a 7-0 lead after two innings.

Mt. Spokane scored twice in the first as M’Liss Powles and Jessica Reed came home on shortstop Karly Schuh’s errant throw, the first of U-Hi’s seven errors.

With the bases loaded in the second inning, Reed popped up to shallow left and the ball landed near the seam of the infield dirt and outfield grass. Left fielder Andrea Fitzsimmons quickly fired home and would have had the runner by five feet, but the ball sailed high. Kaylene Peterson hit an RBI single and Katelyn Bauman added a run-scoring grounder as the Wildcats pushed five runs across in the inning.

“We talked about having a better approach and trying to get a good pitch to hit because (Johnson) is tough,” Mt. Spokane coach Carl Adams said. “When the pitch was there, put a good swing on it. If it wasn’t, make her work a little bit.”

Johnson, the league co-MVP with Ferris’ Erika Santarossa, walked four and hit one batter before being lifted in the second inning.

Peterson, Emily Hastings and Abby Ricco each had two hits. Bauman earned her 12th win by scattering seven hits.

The Wildcats claimed the top seed at 3A regionals next Saturday at West Valley-Yakima.

The second-seeded Titans’ regional road will be tougher because they face a loser-out opener.

Ferris 5, Mead 1

Kendra Pierce stroked a two-run single in the second and two-run double in the fourth as the Saxons took a 4-0 lead. Both of Pierce’s hits brought in Iman Gary and Nicole Nelson.

Santarossa took care of the rest, striking out six and limiting Mead to just four hits. Two of those were well-placed bloopers that barely eluded Saxons’ gloves in the outfield.

“She just has a ton of heart,” Smith said. “She’s one of those kids that’s played for four years and knows what it’s like to work her way up from the bottom to the top.”

Nelson drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Santarossa with the Saxons’ fifth run in the sixth. Mead scored its lone run in the bottom of the sixth as Mackenzie Kutz trotted home on Kaitlyn Huggins’ double.

“Santarossa had us looking silly quite a bit,” Mead coach John Barrington said. “We’ve kind of lost the bats the last few weeks. We haven’t strung a bunch of hits together.”