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Central Valley wins GSL’s top seed to regional softball tournament

Carli Riordan scattered two hits and struck out 13 Mead Panthers to lead Central Valley to the District 8 4A fastpitch softball championship on Friday at Whitworth University.

Behind a three-run home run by batterymate McKenzie Shea, the Bears claimed the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in next week’s regional tournament by stopping Mead 6-0.

Mead will play Gonzaga Prep at Whitworth on Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the second and third seeds to the regional tournament.

“We had, what, 11 hits?” CV coach Joe Stanton said. “That easily is twice what we normally get in a game. We’ve been waiting all year for our offense to come around and it finally did today.”

Taylor Wayman tripled down the right-field line in the second inning to drive in the only run Riordan would need, but the Bears didn’t stop there.

“It always helps to pitch with the lead,” Riordan said. “(Mead) beat us pretty good the last time we played them so I was a little nervous coming in, but I think we were all ready to come out and play our best.”

The pitcher led off the fourth inning with a ringing double that one-hopped to the wall in right-center field, and her teammates added two singles and a bloop fly that fell between the Mead shortstop racing back and the center fielder racing in to add two more runs.

In the fifth, the Bears opened with back-to-back singles by Tia Pau and Carissa Sdao before Mead coach John Barrington pulled his starting pitcher, Hannah Beloved, in favor of Kylie Bremner, who got Riordan to fly out to center field before Shea crushed a pitch over the wall in center to make it 6-0.

Riordan struggled a bit to open the sixth inning, walking one and hitting a second with none out.

“I think she just got a little excited out there,” Shea said. “I went out and told her to just calm down and pitcher her game. When it’s nice and warm like it was today, she gets good and loose and the ball really starts to move. She always throws a good riser, but today she had really good movement on her breaking pitches.”

The sophomore is no stranger to double-digit strikeouts this season. She fanned 13 Titans in a showdown with University and 14 in her season-best effort against Ferris.

Stanton pointed out to his players the advantage of the first-round bye in the regional tournament.

“We jump right past that whole single-elimination part of the tournament,” he said. “We go right into the double-elimination part and I think that’s big. We’re going to have a whole week to get ready, have some good practices and go get ’em Saturday.”

The Bears have the added advantage of playing the regional tournament on their home field.

“We’re excited,” Shea said. “I think we played our best game of the year today, and I think we can keep it going next week and into next weekend.”