For the second time in three years, Spokane has a USA Softball national-level girls fastpitch champion.
Spokane Diamonds won the USA Softball 16U A Western National championship on Friday following a week-long run in Lake Elsinore, California.
In 2015, Spokane Scream ’98 won the 16U B Western National title in Spokane.
Contributions up and down the lineup backed the pitching of Jesse Dupuis as Diamonds fashioned a 6-0-1 record (they were 4-0 in bracket play), capped by a 10-3 victory over Batbusters-Grubbs from Napa, California, in the championship game.
“I’ll tell you what,” said coach Fuzzy Buckenberger. “Jesse was outstanding.”
The right-hander, who will be a senior at Mt. Spokane, pitched every inning – all 47 of them in the seven games – and allowed only 10 earned runs and 38 hits with 44 strikeouts. “And I don’t think she walked five people,” said Buckenberger.
Diamonds didn’t hit a home run, “but we had some clutch triples, a lot of double steals, hits-and-runs, sacrifices,” said Buckenberger. “We used all phases of the game and the kids did just an awesome job.”
Abby Brake (East Valley) and Meghan Keenen (Shadle Park) each batted .500, with Brake spicing up her contribution with three triples.
Outside of a 7-7 tie in pool play, no game was closer than two runs. Diamonds won two by seven and two by four. “We just kept getting clutch hits,” said Buckenberger. “It always seemed to be somebody different.”
“The key? I’d have to say Jesse’s pitching and the kids, all the way through the order, just meshing. That was fun to see,” said Buckenberger. “But with only 10 kids, staying in the winner’s bracket was huge.”
It was the same formula they used two weeks earlier in winning the Idaho State 16U championship. While Diamonds only had to play four games in three days, Batbusters played four on Friday alone and seven in bracket play, going 5-2.
It is the sixth USA Softball national championship for Buckenberger as a coach. He has won five at the adult level in major modified pitch – three in women’s, two in men’s.
The other players: Amanda Rouse (Post Falls), Melina Mendoza (Shadle Park), Carolyn Wendle (Mead), Skyla Mangis (Shadle), Ashley Fuson (Lakeside), Brie Frazier (Lakeside), Kaitlyn Zemke (Mt. Spokane), Katelynn Clark (Lakeside), Ciara Harding (Mead) and Hanna Madsen (Mt. Spokane). The assistant coaches: Larry Chatterton, Brian Zemke, Tami Mangis.
Spokane-area teams won six division championships, had five runners-up and four other teams reach the semifinals in the two-weekend Crossfire Challenge in Redmond, Washington.
Spokane Shadow Sounders and Breakers FC teams each won a boys and a girls title while Washington East and Spokane Foxes programs captured championships in boys divisions.
Girls: Sounders ’00 defeated Greater Seattle Surf 3-2 in the U18 Super division final while Breakers FC ’03 won the U15 Gold division 2-1 over Harbor Premier ’03 Green from Gig Harbor.
Runner-up finishes were collected by Breakers ’00, which finished second in the U18 Gold division after a 2-0 loss to PacNW from Tukwila, Washington, and Sounders ’06-City, which lost the U12 Silver final 2-0 to ISC Gunners White from Issaquah.
Sounders ’06-Valley lost in a U12 Super division semifinal 1-0 to Whitfield SC from Hawaii.
Boys: Four programs each had a champion.
Sounders-Retan won the U16 Silver title, 3-0 over Greater Seattle Surf; Washington East won U16 Gold, 3-1 over PacNW Black; Foxes Puma won U14 Gold, 2-0 over Franklin Pierce Fury; and Breakers won U12 Silver, 2-1 over Washington Premier FC from Puyallup.
Runners-up were Sounders-Shale in U17 Silver, losing the final 2-1 to Whatcom FC Rangers; Washington East, beaten in the U15 Silver final 1-0 by Kent United; and Washington East in the U13 Gold on a 5-1 loss to Three Rivers SC from Tri-City.
Semifinalists were Sounders-Rastock, losing 2-0 to Washington Rush of Everett in U17 Super, and Breakers in U15 Silver, losing 5-0 to Kent United.
The Spokane SC Shadow has a club-best six Spokane Sounders team as members of the 2017-18 US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League, the highest level competition managed by Region IV.
Joining the league this fall will be Boys 2005, Boys 2004, Girls 2002, Girls 2001, Girls 1999 and Girls 2000, which previously participated in the competition for a three-year span from 2013 to 2016.
“We are thrilled that so many of our teams were accepted by Region IV into the Far West Regional League,” Spokane Shadow/Sounders Technical Director Abbas Faridnia said in a news release. “This is a great statement on how our club continues to progress in developing players and the across-the-board quality and competitiveness of our top teams.”
The Far West Regional League Northwest Division – one of three regional divisions within Region IV – is comprised of the top teams (U13-U19) from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Champions from each gender age group of the FWRL Northwest will earn an automatic spot in the US Youth Soccer Region IV (Far West) Championships, part of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
The Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen American Legion Class A team captured a state championship last weekend in Nampa, Idaho.
The Lumbermen (47-11) advance to the Northwest Regional tournament in Eugene, which begins Friday.
CdA went 4-0, topping Nampa 5-4 in the final. Brandon Gay (Lake City) delivered the game-winning run with a single in the seventh inning.
The title is believed to be just the second in the history of CdA American Legion.
“It’s finally starting to set in,” manager Pat Capone said on Tuesday. “When it happens you’re sort of stuck in the moment. When I got home my phone was blowing up.”
Capone praised the solid efforts of Quinton Bunch (CdA), Carter Friesz (CdA), Devon Johnson (CdA) and Zach Stensel (LC).
“We fully expected this group to contend for a state title,” Capone said. “This is a special group.”
The Lumbermen open the regional against the Wyoming state champ. The tourney was pushed back a day because of anticipated three-digit heat.
“Something I’ve been telling this group is nobody can beat us except us,” Capone said. “We have yet to run into a team that has beaten us athlete to athlete. The sky’s the limit for this group.”
Other team members include Dylan Brum (LC), Brennan Deboer (LC), Michael Dooley (CdA), Luke Hicks (CdA), David Kraak (CdA), Zach Mackimmie (CdA), Will Mayo (LC), Elijah Samaha (LC), Brennen Schuelke (LC) and Benji White (LC).
Capone is assisted by CJ Ketron and Dominic Conigliaro.
The Lewis-Clark Twins of Lewiston captured the AA state title, defeating the Idaho Falls Bandits 3-2 in the final in Twin Falls.
L-C (36-10) advances to the Northwest Regional in Missoula. It was L-C’s 39th state title and first since 2009.
The Spokane Stars Elite Blue club team finished its season 37-3.
The Stars went 4-0 in its tournament, the Summer Heat Showcase, and finished by going 4-1 at the End of the Trail Summer Swoosh Showcase in Irvine, California.
Lexie Hull (Central Valley) averaged 15.5 points and eight rebounds and Hailey Christopher (CV) averaged 13 points at the Summer Heat tourney. In the final tourney, Hull led with 17.5 points and Lacie Hull (CV) averaged eight rebounds and Camryn Skaife (CV) averaged 4.2 assists.
The Stars lost 81-39 to the Cal Stars in the tourney in Irvine.
“They’re the No. 1-ranked team in the country and the best team we’ve played in I don’t know how many years,” Stars coach Ron Adams said. “If we played them 10 times we’d lose all 10 but some of them would be within 20 points. They’re loaded with Division I players.”
In the Stars’ final game, they avenged an early loss in the spring to Team Arizona Red. The Stars lost to them 51-34 in Phoenix but turned that around with an impressive 71-42 wipeout.
“That was a huge improvement,” Adams said.
The Northwest Blazers Orange finished runner-up at the Adidas National Championship tournament last weekend in Atlanta, falling to Texas Elite.
It’s the second year in a row that the Blazers have finished runners-up. They’ve been in the finals three times and finished third twice in the last five years.
Three area players are on the Blazers. They are Aspyn Adams (Mt. Spokane), Jacinta Buckley (Lewis and Clark) and Carmen Gfeller (Colfax). The team is coached by Steve Klees.
The North Idaho Elite club team finished its season with tournaments in Las Vegas and Irvine, California.
North Idaho went 8-2 in the tourneys, finishing runner-up in the End of Trail Summer Swoosh tournament by losing to Cal Stars.
At the Las Vegas Super Showcase, North Idaho’s lone loss was to Team Diana Taurasi out of Texas.
North Idaho posted a 17-4 record in July.
A pair of Spokane Legacy club teams went a combined 7-4 at the MSNM tournament in San Diego, California.
Spokane Legacy Red made it to the final eight, losing to eventual runner-up Northwest Stars of Oregon.
Spokane Legacy White made it to the semifinals of their bracket before losing to Team Concept of Portland.
The Red finished 29-9 for the season while the White was 21-15.
White team members include Isabella Boring (Kettle Falls), Maiya Martinez (Reardan), Lainy Jacobsen (Davenport), Grace Holt (Freeman), Hailee Huff (Cheney), Dejah Wilson (Lake City), Sage Aldendorf (East Valley), Hannah Rowland (East Valley), Kimberly Dewey (Reardan) and Maggie Bailey (Freeman). The coaches are Bob Swannack, Jim Swannack and Shaye Swannack.
Track and Field
A handful of area athletes competed at the USATF Hershey National championships last week.
In the women’s 17-18 division, Anna Rodgers (Lewis and Clark) took fifth in the long jump with a jump of 18-feet, 8 inches.
Julia Hayes (Valley Christian) took fifth in the girls 15-16 high jump, vaulting 5-5.
Rodgers, Alsatta Bakana (Cheney), Lexi Rolan (Medical Lake) and Skyler Walton (Wenatchee) combined to take third in the 400-meter relay in 46.01.
In the boys 17-18 division, Carson Brown (Cheney), Tony Pizzillo (Shadle Park), Conner Black (Ferris) and Charles Johnson III (Cheney) combined to take seventh in the 1,600 relay in 3:18.41.
Makenzie Funk of Mt. Spokane will be at the U.S. Army and Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday during the 2017 Enshrinement Weekend when the Excellence winner is announced.
Funk is one of 25 sophomore-, junior- and senior-level high school athletes in the U.S. to be selected as a finalist based on athletic, academic and civic achievements.
Staff writer Greg Lee contributed to this report.