No âSpring Breakâ for
In a wacky, strange piece of scheduling and rescheduling that saw the streaking Colville High softball team (10-1) play seven games in an eight-day stretch during the so-called Spring Break, the Indians and rubber-armed pitcher McKenna Cabbage thrived.
Spring Break? Not for CHS.
The Indians, 9-0 in Great Northern League play and two games clear of second place West Valley and Deer Park, got shutout performances from Cabbage in five of those seven games.
Colville, the loser of its opener back on March 14 to Idaho Inland Empire 5A power Lake City, hasnât lost since.
Jim Ebelâs Indians swept Clarkston 2-0, 10-0 back on March 30 in the sunshine and blanked Pullman 9-0 on April 2 before sweeping Deer Park 1-0, 15-1 on April 4 (make-up) and easily beating Cheney 9-0, 13-2 last Saturday.
Colville will travel to East Valley (4-5) Wednesday for a doubleheader. The first game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
In Colvilleâs sweep of Clarkston, Cabbage, impressive all spring long in the circle, tossed a one-hitter, issued three walks and fanned 16 in the 2-0 win.
Colville scored the gameâs only runs in the fifth inning. CHS leadoff Taylor Kellum got hit by a pitch and promptly stole second base. The senior shortstop moved to third on a Jessi Wittmeyer ground out and scored on catcher Jammie Madonnaâs ground out to shortstop.
Cabbage moved Madonna around to third base with a sharp double to left-centerfield before Jalene Howell plated the second run with a grounder to shortstop.
Thatâs all the run support the Great Northern Leagueâs best pitcher would need. In addition to a sterling outing in the circle, Cabbage was 3 for 3 at the plate.
According to Ebel, Cabbage wasnât as effective in the second game, but it was still more than good enough in a 10-0, five-inning blanking of the Bantams.
Cabbageâs second game line: two hits, two walks, no runs and six strikeouts.
âI was very proud and relieved to see Mac finish her first doubleheader (as a CHS pitcher),â Ebel said after it was all over. âThatâs a lot of pitches, but at least the second game only went five innings.â
Ebel said that Clarkston was able to put the ball in play much more effectively in the second game.
âThat fact allowed our defense to shine,â Ebel added.
Colville didnât commit an error in either game.
In the first inning, Wittmeyer turned in a defensive gem with a diving catch in centerfield of a sinking fly ball. The sterling defensive play continued in the second inning when Madonna, with a runner on second and one out, picked off the Clarkston runner at second base. Her strike to Kellum sneaking in behind the runner was in plenty of time and got the Indians out a tough situation.
In the third inning, Hannah Smith made a diving stop of a sharply hit ground ball that was headed into rightfield for a single. The CHS second baseman was able to throw the Clarkston runner out at first base.
Colville collected 10 hits in the second game. Wittmeyer, Smith and Madonna had two hits apiece.
Key play in the game was a delayed steal of home by Kellum that plated Colvilleâs first run.
âClarkston was caught completely off guard there,â Ebel said. âAnd so was I.â
The throw home got to the backstop and Wittmeyer, with some heads-up base-running, was able to score all the way from second base on the play.
Kellum scored three times for the Indians and Wittmeyer drove in three runs with those two hits. She also scored three times.
Madonna had a single, a double and a pair of RBIs.
In the 9-0 blanking of Pullman on April 2, Cabbage was impressive again, surrendering just two hits, striking out 11 (in only five innings) and issuing two walks.
Colville got all the scoring they would need in the first inning when Kellum got it started in the first with a lead-off single up the middle that was misplayed and rolled all the way to the fence. With her exceptional speed, Kellum scored easily on the misplay.
After two straight walks to Madonna and Wittmeyer, third baseman Emily Poling singled in both runners and CHS led 3-0.
In the second, Colville added two more runs when Smith led off with a single and Miranda Tostenson followed with a ground ball up the middle that was booted. That put runners in scoring position for the Indians and Kellum, who singled home Smith.
Wittmeyer followed with an RBI double.
In the third, Tostenson singled to score Howell, who led off the frame with a walk.
With one out in the fifth inning, Smith hit a grounder in the hole and the long throw across the diamond pulled the Pullman first baseman off the bag.
Tostenson then beat out a drag bunt and Kellum walked. With the bases loaded, Wittmeyer drilled a 2-2 pitch deep into left-centerfield to plate all three runners.
Wittmeyer led Colvilleâs nine-hit attack with two hits and five RBIs.
Poling, Kellum and Smith also had two hits apiece.
In the sweep at Deer Park on April 4, Cabbage was on her game again in the tight 1-0 first game win. Cabbage hit a season and career high with 17 strikeouts. She walked three and gave up only one hit.
CHS picked up the only run they would need in the top of the first inning. Kellum was safe on a bunt single to lead it off.
A perfectly executed bunt and steal executed by Wittmeyer scored Kellum all the way from first base. A bad throw to first got Wittmeyer to second base, where she was picked off after hesitating between bases, Ebel said.
The win marked the fifth straight shutout for Cabbage.
Colville coaxed the final DP out in the seventh, stranding runners at second and third.
Cabbage and Kellum both had two hits in the opener.
In game two, the rain started in the second inningâright in concert with Colvilleâs offense. The Indians managed two runs in the first, four in the second, one in the third and four more in the fourth and fifth innings.
Colville collected 13 hits in the five-inning game. All that against the same pitcher that had held the Indians to only one run in the seven-inning opener.
âI donât know what the difference was there,â Ebel conceded. âMaybe it was the fact that the second umpire had a tighter strike zone. Maybe the Deer Park pitcher got a little tired.
âIâd like to think our girls were able to finally adjust, but I think it was a combination of all three.â
Pitching in the rain was no bargain. Cabbage issued seven walks to go with her nine strikeouts. But DP couldnât solve the hard-throwing right-hander and once again managed only one hit (a run-scoring double in the second inning).
That run marked the first time in six games that Cabbage has surrendered an earned run.
Everyone in the CHS line-up collected at least one hit in the second game against Deer Park. Kellum, Cabbage and Tostenson all had two hits apiece.
Madonna had a big game with four hits in four tripsâa triple, two home runs and six RBIs.
In some tough conditions last Saturday, the Indians were still able to get an easy doubleheader sweep of outclassed Cheney.
In the 9-0 first game win, Cabbage was sharp once again, surrendering only one hit, striking out eight and hitting three batters.
And the Cheney hit was debatable: a hard-hit ground ball through the first basemanâs legs.
âPlaying conditions were windy and cold on a very sandy surface,â Ebel said. âIt was like playing softball on a wet sand beach.â
Throw in 30 mile per hour winds and pitching was a difficult proposition. Between the two teams, there were 19 walks or hit batters.
âEveryone agreed it was one of the longest seven-inning games theyâd ever experienced,â Ebel said.
Colville picked up two runs in the first inning. A two-out walk to Madonna and a run scoring double by Cabbage got the Indians on the board.
Leanna Carr got into the offensive hit parade with a run scoring single.
In the fourth inning, Carr scored on a double by Poling. April Hinds then walked and both runners advanced on a passed ball and scored on a booted grounder off the bat of Howell.
In the sixth, Tostenson singled and moved to second base on a wild pitch. She went to third on a passed ball and scored on a throw to first base from the catcher after a dropped third strike that the speedy Wittmeyer was able to beat out.
Colville added to their total in the seventh inning. Tostensonâs swinging bunt down the first base line scored Poling (who walked) and Hinds (who singled).
Ebel liked his teamâs aggressive base-running.
âWe really had some good, aggressive base-running in this doubleheader,â the coach pointed out. âWe were able to take advantage of some Cheney mental lapses.
Ebelâs book said the Indians collected nine hits. Cheneyâs book said five.
âSomewhere in between is probably the correct number,â Ebel figured.
In game two, Cabbage surrendered one earned run, struck out eight, issued four walks and gave up only two hits in the easy five-inning win.
Ebel said he was particularly pleased with his teamâs defensive play in game two.
âWe made some real heads-up plays in the infield that kind of dazzled me,â admitted Ebel, not one to be easily âdazzled.â
Poling speared a hard-hit one-hopper at third base. There was a back-handed flip to get a force at third base by Kellum and yet another diving stop at second base by Smith. Madonna and Hinds combined on a pickoff play at first base with Hinds catching the ball almost between the runnerâs legs to get the tag down in time.
Cabbage âpitched to contactâ in the second game. She was efficient, throwing a five-pitch second inning, and a seven-pitch third.
Madonna, Smith and Wittmeyer all had three hits apiece for Colville. Wittmeyer and Madonna both scored three times.
Madonna, this weekâs Colville Benchwarmerâs CHS Athlete of the Week, hit her sixth home run of the season.
Hinds, Carr and Cabbage all had a pair of hits in the second game. Carr had a double and a triple in Colvilleâs 16-hit attack.