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The Central Valley Bears celebrate going to the State 4A tournament after beating Walla Walla. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

NWPrepsNow: U-Hi, CV claim State 4A softball berths

Rain prevent softball from being played, but it can’t stop University’s offense from piling on runs.

The Titans (19-4) trounced Richland (22-3-1) 9-4 in the 4A regional championship game on a rainy Monday evening at University High School.

In Saturday’s semifinal game against Walla Walla, the Titans scored 11 runs on the Walla Walla Blue Devils before the regional championships were postponed by rained.

“That’s got to be one of the best one-through-nine hitting teams we’ve seen all year,” Richland coach Casey Emery said.

U-Hi struck with a two-run home run from Gracee Dwyer and an RBI single from Makayla Marshall to go up 3-1 after one inning. U-Hi poured on five more runs in the bottom of the third to establish an 8-2 lead.

Richland cut into the lead with two runs in the fourth, but U-Hi starting pitcher Rachel Hawley worked out of a jam in the fifth inning and retired six of the last seven batters she faced to shut the door on the Bombers.

Four U-Hi batters recorded multi-hit games, led by No. 9 hitter Hailey Howard, who was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

The Titans’ balance from top-to-bottom in their lineup makes them a tough team to pitch to, says U-HI coach Jon Schuh.

“We’re hitting the snot out of the ball right now, and hopefully that continues,” Schuh said. “They can’t pitch around certain individuals because of the girl behind her.”

U-Hi and Richland both enter the 4A state tournament as No. 1 seeds after Monday’s game. While Emery said Saturday he wasn’t sure his team was going to return to Spokane to play for the regional championship if they were already deemed a No. 1 seed at state, the Bombers decided the trip was worth it.

“Our seniors wanted the opportunity to come up and win a regional championship,” Emery said.

For U-Hi, playing and beating Richland for the regional championship means a large confidence boost.

“We beat two quality teams in the regional tournament. Richland and Walla Walla, they’re no slouches,” Schuh said. “It should be a nice confidence boost for us.”

CV earns state berth

The Bears edged Walla Walla 4-3 in a winner-to-state, loser-out game.

CV scored two runs in the fifth inning to take 4-3 lead. The Bears’ starting pitcher, Kelsey Gumm, worked out of a jam in the sixth, stranding two base runners, and retired three straight in the seventh to protect their lead.

“Coming into (the playoffs) with a 13-7 record, no one pictured us to go to state this year,” CV catcher Macie Reynolds said. “I’m just really glad we proved them all wrong.”