Don’t look back, someone might be gaining on you.
A moribund Lewis and Clark baseball program is showing signs of life under first-year coach Steve Bennett. Following a slow start, the Tigers have qualified for the 4A district tournament that begins Monday at Whitworth University.
They can thank Shadle Park in more than one way. LC had program-defining 4-3 and 4-2 wins over the Highlanders to put them on the cusp. Shadle then knocked off Central Valley twice, giving the Tigers the fourth district seed and a 2 p.m. game against third-seed Mead.
After losing its first six GSL games, LC won seven of its final 11.
“The kids have worked really, really hard and bought into doing things right,” Bennett said. “And we’ve gotten better as we’ve gone on.”
Bennett has brought an organized, fiery approach to the program and stressed fundamentals. A young team with only three seniors responded.
“We’ve really worked hard in practice on game situations and making sure we’re completely focused on each pitch,” Bennett said.
Junior Karver Pate and sophomore Ethan LaValley do the bulk of the pitching. Bennett said Patrick Smith and senior Cory Gieffers have had huge hits at key times during the late run. Jordan Summers is the team’s second-leading hitter behind Smith.
“They want to grow as a program,” Bennett said. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Biggie at West Valley
The Great Northern League championship is on the line when Clarkston travels to West Valley today for a key doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.
The two teams are a game apart, comfortably ahead of the rest of the field.
Let the (playoff) games begin
The postseason begins for most classifications early next week.
4A: Besides Lewis and Clark’s game with Mead on Monday, Gonzaga Prep and Ferris follow for the district championship. The loser plays the winner of Game 1 on Tuesday at 4 p.m. for the second berth in the GSL/Mid-Columbia Conference subregional.
3A: The top four teams – Mt. Spokane, University, Shadle Park and Rogers – jump right into the subregional beginning Tuesday.
2A: Great Northern League begins Tuesday with the numbers three through six opening in loser-out games. West Valley and Clarkston await. Two advance to subregionals.
1A: Like the GSL 3A, the Northeast A League has no district. The top three finishers – Medical Lake, Lakeside and Freeman – play Caribou Trail teams in the six-team Bi-District tournament beginning Tuesday in Moses Lake. It moves to Medical Lake on Saturday with four games beginning at 10 a.m.
2B: The Northeast 2B includes all eight schools. Top seeds Northwest Christian and Colfax play for state seeding May 14. The others play for a third birth.
Idaho tournaments are already underway.
GSL grads in the pros
There’s no one more passionate or tuned in to the Greater Spokane League than 1995 Rogers graduate Mike Schock. He tracks down tidbits to pass on, most recently emailing me a list of seven former GSL baseball players currently playing professional baseball.
To wit: Lewis and Clark graduate Travis Webb (2003) is pitching with the AAA Nashville Sounds, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers; North Central’s Matt Oye (2004) is now pitching for the Arkansas Travelers, a AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels; Ferris’ Andrew Kittredge (2008) is a third-year Mariners farmhand, pitching for the AAA Tacoma; Mt. Spokane’s Jarek Cunningham (2008) plays second for AA Altoona Curve, a Pittsburgh Pirates farm team; Rogers Jake Partridge (2009), pitches for Tampa Bay affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs in Advanced A; and two CV Bears, Rusty Shellhorn (2008), pitching with the Mariners Advanced A High Desert Mavericks, and Trevor Shull (2008), pitching with Tampa Bay’s Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods.