Shayla Vegas celebrated her birthday Friday afternoon at University High, but she waited until after she and her Central Valley teammates wrapped up a second straight Greater Spokane League title to start the party.
Vegas, a shortstop who transferred to CV from Texas at the end of last year, ripped a pair of doubles and had three hits in four at-bats, driving in three runs, to help power the Bears to a 7-2 win over rival U-Hi behind a 12-strikeout performance of pitcher Carli Riordan.
“We were all excited about this game,” Vegas said. “To have the chance to come in and clinch the league title? It’s a happy birthday.”
Riordan struck out the side in the second inning and worked her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out three straight Titans.”
“She’s toughest when she has runners on base,” CV coach Joe Stanton said. “I kid her and tell her that we should start every inning with a runner on base.”
Vegas made a number of strong plays in the infield behind Riordan – something she’s rarely been called upon to do more than once or twice a game as the starting pitcher has dominated opponents. In just this week, Riordan threw a no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Mt. Spokane and struck out 17 while two-hitting Lewis and Clark.
“She’s been so dominant at times,” Vegas said. “But we’re ready to make plays behind her when she needs us to.”
Left fielder Jade Rockwood made the play of the game in the fourth inning. After Brooklyn Tacke doubled down the left-field line, Titans starting pitcher Alex Douglas hit a sinking line drive that Rockwood snared with a sliding catch, then popped up to fire a throw to second base to double up Tacke.
“I don’t set out to strike everyone out,” Riordan said. “I have all the confidence in the world in the players behind me.”
The Bears jumped on Douglas for two runs in the first and added three runs in the third to make it 5-0. CV held a 7-0 lead with two out in the seventh when Tacke ripped a two-run single.
Central Valley has been the No. 1 Class 4A seed out of the GSL the past three seasons and finished the regular season with a 16-2 league mark and 17-3 overall.
Leadoff hitter Natalie Ford had a pair of hits and reached base four times for the Bears, setting the table ahead of Vegas. Riordan, the No. 3 hitter, added a pair of hits and two RBIs.
Both teams will play Thursday on the second day of the District 8 4A tournament at Whitworth.