With only one senior last year, East Valley’s softball team finished third in the CWAC with a 14-4 record. A decent outcome, considering the overload of underclassmen, but the Red Devils did fade in the postseason and were unable to go beyond the district tournament.
“We underachieved last year,” coach Eric Taylor said flatly. “I understand how young we were, but there were other young teams. You can only take that excuse so far.”
Now, with a core of six seniors and a battery of bats that has rolled up 193 runs, these Red Devils don’t need excuses for anything. After playing 12 games in two weeks, the Red Devils have a week to gear up for a final push toward what they hope is the program’s first league championship in 13 years.
At 8-1 in the CWAC and 11-5 overall, East Valley has a single game at Quincy on Tuesday followed by a doubleheader at Ellensburg on Saturday. After that comes the resumption of a suspended game against Selah on May 7, a contest EV was leading last month 12-0 in the third inning.
“We definitely had a compressed schedule, like a lot of teams, and now with a week to practice we have to watch out for complacency,” Taylor said. “Our schedule slows way down and, as good as we’ve been playing, we want to keep moving that needle forward.”
All CWAC baseball and softball teams are still adjusting to the new divisional format, but Taylor knows already he likes it. And for this group the timing couldn’t have been better since the schedule has opened up opportunities to play teams like Yelm, Moses Lake, Eastmont and Marysville-Pilchuck — 4A and 3A teams that account for four of EV’s five losses.
“It’s been a huge benefit to beef up our schedule like that,” the coach said. “It’s pushed us to work harder, given us a great trip to the westside and helped us see where we need to be better. With 18 league games before, that’s a lot of games against the same teams.”
With Ellensburg, Selah and Othello hoarding the league titles for so long, East Valley hasn’t been able to steal one despite a 148-67 record in CWAC play since 2007. But the Red Devils aren’t the only new contenders chasing the rare prize with Ephrata sitting at 7-1 with games left against Othello, Toppenish and Selah. East Valley and Ephrata split on April 11.
“The Selah (makeup) would only be played if it mattered,” Taylor said. “It’ll matter.”
Even if East Valley and Ephrata share the league title there would be big rewards for both. The top two teams in Division 1 advance directly to the district semifinals.
“We’re where we should be at this point and hopefully everybody continues to improve,” noted Taylor, whose team is averaging 12 runs a game — quite a number with senior ace Kendall Locke on the mound. “We need to clean some things up on defense, but we are definitely putting up runs.”
There’s something about being a rookie that brings out the best in Prosser high jumpers.
Seven years ago Wade French turned out for track for the first time and broke the school record at 6 feet, 6 inches. Two years ago Oliver Davis scaled 6-5 as a freshman and won the 2A state title. This season it’s Haden Hicks, a sophomore whose athletic ability was obvious during basketball and football.
In his debut season, Hicks quickly figured out the technique necessary in the high jump, improving in four straight meets — 5-10, 6-0, 6-4 and then 6-6¼ last Saturday at his home track. He also ranks third in the CWAC in the long jump (20-7) and triple jump (41-3).
Hicks’ 6-6¼ is the third-best jump in the state overall behind 6-8 and 6-7. The 6-7 jumper is Ferris sophomore Cole Omlin, who would’ve been a potential 2A rival for Hicks had he stayed at Cheney.
Davis, now a junior, has topped 6-2 this season and gives the Mustangs quite a 1-2 punch in the event.
Senior Kolbein Moore, the leading scorer on West Valley’s league-championship boys soccer team, has signed with Montana State-Billings of the GNAC and will be a future teammate of former CWAC offensive MVP Paul Cuevas of East Valley. Cuevas spent the past two seasons at Skagit Valley.
Zillah’s Callie Delp and Granger’s Jayleen Vasquez, who have been SCAC West basketball rivals for four years, will be teammates at Yakima Valley in the fall.
West Valley’s Kendall Sharp, a first-team all-CBBN forward who led the Rams in scoring last fall, is headed to Whitworth and will join Naches Valley’s Brixi Mendoza.
Saturday’s track invites
Ellensburg’s Keith Jewett Invitational, which was scheduled for Saturday, will have to wait a year for its 31st annual edition. A lack of team entries, for a variety of reasons, led to canceling this season’s meet.
Eisenhower’s Jonas Price is gearing up for a fast 3,200 at the Shoreline invite, where he clocked his career best of 9:12.22 last year. He’s already seventh on the Valley’s all-time list with that time last year as a sophomore.
Naches Valley and La Salle will collaborate on their seventh annual invite with 13 teams Saturday. Field events start at 11 a.m. followed by running at noon.
Light it up
Zaepfel Stadium and Don Holder Track will soon have a new scoreboard for track, football and soccer fans to enjoy.
With Gesa Credit Union funding most of the cost, a Daktronics scoreboard will be installed this summer and up and running for the 2019-2020 school year. The scoreboard will be compatible with the stadium’s FinishLynx timing system, so results can be posted as the events are finishing.
From the note file
• Pending school board approval, Granger has filled its two head basketball coach positions with Rolando Zamora (boys) and Robert Cardenas (girls). Zamora is a three-sport coach from a small school in Texas, and Cardenas coached the boys varsity team last season.
• Due to a lack of healthy and eligible players, La Salle has been forced to forfeit its remaining SCAC West softball doubleheaders against Naches Valley, Zillah and Cle Elum.
• Sunnyside Christian sophomore Tyler Groeneweg earned WIAA athlete of the week honors for Class 1B boys after a 4-for-5 effort with three doubles and three runs scored, including the game winner in the 10th inning, against Lyle-Wishram.