Happiness is a greeting committee at home plate.
Colville High won its 13th straight game on a cold afternoon for softball at Vaagen Park back on April 16. The Indians broke open a scoreless game in the bottom of the third inning en route to a 9-3 Great Northern League softball win over third place Deer Park.
CHS (13-1, 12-0) was scheduled to make the long trip to Clarkston on Friday for a single game against the Bantams, but that contest was rescheduled for Monday.
The long Monday road trip to the Lewiston-Clarkston valley precedes a Tuesday doubleheader back home against West Valley. The opener at Vaagen Park gets underway at 2 p.m.
The Indians are scheduled to travel to winless, cellar-dwelling Pullman on Friday for a doubleheader. The opener starts at 2 p.m.
Colville, three games up in the loss column on second place West Valley with six GNL games remaining on the regular schedule, will end the regular season on Tuesday, April 30 at home against Cheney (4 p.m. start).
Colville threatened in the bottom half of the first inning against Deer Park after hot-hitting Jessi Wittmeyer laced a one-out triple.
But catcher Jammie Madonnaâ€™s drive into the right-centerfield alley was hauled down and Wittmeyer, running on the play, scrambled back to third base to tag up, but was thrown out at the plate to complete an inning-ending double play.
Colville broke through in the bottom half of the third inning. Wittmeyer, who came within a single of hitting for the rare cycle, crashed her third home run of the season to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
Madonna followed with a towering home run over the centerfield fence to give CHS and pitcher McKenna Cabbage a 3-0 cushion.
But Deer Park (10-4, 8-4) tied the game up in the top of the fourth inning when Cabbage struggled with the strike zone and her control.
Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases for DP with no one out. A two-RBI single to rightfield and more control issues by Cabbage got the Stags even.
After the two-RBI single, another walk loaded the bases again. Cabbageâ€™s fifth walk of the frame forced in the tying run.
A strikeout and an inning-ending infield pop-up ended the Deer Park uprising.
Colville took the lead again, this time for good, in the bottom of the fifth inning. A walk and an error put runners aboard for right-fielder Leanna Carr, who proceeded to hit her first career home run. The three-run shot just out of the reach of the Deer Park left-fielder, who fell over the fence trying to haul in the seniorâ€™s drive, gave the Indians a 6-3 lead.
â€śThat was the first home run in her life,â€ť Colville head coach Jim Ebel said of Carrâ€™s line shot over the left-field fence.
If Ebel had a complaint about the home run (and he didnâ€™t), it was in Carrâ€™s too quick home run trot.
More work on that home run trot
â€śI told her that sheâ€™s got to work on her home run trotâ€¦she just raced around the bases like it was an inside the park home run,â€ť Ebel said. â€śShe needs to go slow and enjoy it.â€ť
Ebel said Carrâ€™s shot â€śwas a big lift to the teamâ€ť after Deer Park had tied it.
In the sixth inning, Carr turned in the defensive gem of the game with a diving catch of a sinking line drive in right.
The Indians pushed across three more runs in the sixth inning. Two Deer Park infield errors, sandwiched around Wittmeyerâ€™s one out double and an RBI ground-out single by Madonna got it done for Colville. Shortstop Taylor Kellum also stole home during the big inning.
Offensively, Wittmeyer â€ścontinues to hit everyone,â€ť Ebel said. Cabbage and Miranda Tostenson also had two hits apiece (one a double to the fence). She also scored twice.
Ebel was pleased with the contact at the plate. The Indians only had two strikeouts.
â€śOur goal going in was to be aggressive early in the count and get on top of the fastball,â€ť Ebel explained. â€śFor the most part, we did a good job of that. When we have time to prepare for the speed of a certain pitcher, it really is a big advantage.
â€śThe girls are such good hittersâ€¦if they have an idea whatâ€™s coming, odds are that theyâ€™re going to turn it around pretty hard. In fact, our two strikeouts occurred when the Deer Park pitcher got up in the count and was able to use her change-up effectively.â€ť
A little rust
Ebel said that Cabbage was coming off a four-day band trip (she didnâ€™t throw those days) and she was â€śknocking off a little rust.
â€śI liked the fact that she kept her composure and was able to work through it (her fourth inning control issues).â€ť
Cabbage surrendered only two hits, struck out eight and walked seven.
Colville 9, Deer Park 3
DPH 000 300 0â€”3 2 4
CHS 003 033 xâ€”9 10 0
Sweeney & Durgalch. Cabbage & Madonna. Wâ€”Cabbage (12-1).
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HITS: Deer Parkâ€”English, Martin. Colvilleâ€”Wittmeyer 3, Cabbage 2, Carr 2, Tostenson 2, Madonna. 2Bâ€”Wittmeyer, Tostenson. 3Bâ€”Wittmeyer. HRâ€”Wittmeyer, Madonna, Carr.