For Harry and Hunter Wells, athletics is genetic.
The two West Valley baseball players – Harry at first base, Hunter at shortstop and pitching in relief – have been mainstays for the Eagles this season.
Their mother, Peggy (Almquist) Wells is one of the best all-around female athletes in WV history.
Their dad, Ken, is a teacher and coach in the Central Valley School District and has been around athletics forever.
“Harry is hitting a ton,” coach Don O’Neal said. “He has four home runs and is just killing the ball.”
He said Hunter “is as good defensively as I’ve seen in a long time.”
Not that defense overall has been an Eagles hallmark, O’Neal admitted.
“You know it’s a classic thing,” he said. “In baseball, whoever makes the most mistakes, you’re losing.”
Heading into this weekend, there literally is no margin for error among Great Northern League teams.
Clarkston leads with a 9-2 record, but East Valley and Pullman (both 7-3) are nipping at the Bantams’ heels. WV comes in at 8-4 with six league games remaining.
Pivotal upcoming games include Clarkston at Pullman and the Eagles against Cheney in doubleheaders today.
Down the road, WV will be at Pullman. East Valley has the meat of its schedule remaining with doubleheaders against Pullman and Clarkston and a single game left with Cheney.
“Clarkston kind of controls its own destiny,” O’Neal said. “But if Pullman beats Clarkston, it has the upper hand.”
Update on bats
When high school baseball went to a newly mandated bat, common wisdom said they would reduce power and perhaps lead to lower-scoring games.
So far, the bats do seem to have less home-run pop.
“I think the sweet spot is bigger, but balls don’t go as far,” O’Neal said.
Going back to last year at this time, scoring in the Great Northern League averaged a combined 14.5 runs per game, and this year it’s down to 11.4 bearing out the preseason theory about scoring.
The Greater Spokane League is scoring at a nearly identical pace both years, plating 10 runs per game and change.
GSL teams reach the two-thirds mark of the season all caught up except for one doubleheader. Like its 2A counterpart, four teams continue chasing first place with only a game or two separating them.
Mead (9-2 before Thursday’s game) is coming off a tough week that includes its two-game set with rival Mt. Spokane right into today’s home game with league leader Gonzaga Prep (10-1). They’ll complete the series Tuesday at G-Prep.
The Bulldogs “stuck with our theme of great pitching,” coach Brian Munhall wrote via email.
Sophomore Justin Blatner pitched five innings striking out 11 in the 10-2 victory over University.
“Our bats finally warmed up as well,” Munhall said. “Maybe 70 degrees and warm hands had something to do with that.” Blatner has three wins and a save, with a 1.05 ERA and 31 strikeouts and Max Graves is 3-0. Anthony Gosline and Matt Miller are hitting .324, the latter with eight RBIs. … Mead played four doubleheaders last week, going 8-0 to briefly share first place. Tucker Hoch went 16 for 27 and Zac Regel threw a no-hitter at Shadle Park in a 10-0 win. Regel pitched a total of eight innings of shut-out ball, allowed one hit and struck out nine. Nick Sagendorf pitched 10 innings and struck out 17. He added 15 Ks in the Panthers’ Tuesday loss to the Wildcats. … Garrett Hoffnagle had a great last three games for Mt. Spokane. He had two hits in each, going 6 for 9. With his complete-game win over Mead his league pitching record is 4-0.