District next for Chewelah

Cougs finish fifth in NEAChewelah has concluded its softball regular season. The Cougars are preparing for the first round of the Northeast A League District 7 1A playoffs. Chewelah finished the regular season with an 8-2 loss to Medical Lake, giving the Cougars a fifth place finish with a 5-13 NEA record and a 6-14 record overall. The Cougars will again face Medical Lake (7-11, 8-12) on the road Tuesday in the loser-out first round.RECAPThe early innings once again got the better of the Cougars against Medical Lake. Shaky defense and a few timely hits in the second and third innings led to seven Cardinal runs. The Cougars got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, but couldn’t push across any more runs and fell 8-2. Chewelah managed to outhit the Cardinals 8-6, but didn’t receive any help from an ML defense that played errorless softball. Chewelah committed four errors. Makayla Hopkins led the Cougars with a pair of singles and Katelyn Garner took the loss in the circle.With Tuesday’s District 7 1A loser-out game against the same opponent, Chewelah head coach Tom Skok is hoping his Cougars can turn their luck around against a Medical Lake team that swept the three game season series against Chewelah this spring.“It’s kind of a weird matchup,” Skok said. “We’ve outhit them in two of the three games, but we’ve also made more errors and that’s been the difference in the ballgames.” Slow starts have plagued the Cougars all season. If Chewelah wants to extend their season, they’ll need to find a way to shake the early innings’ funk. “How do we go without giving up seven runs in the first three innings of a game?” said Skok, who added “The big key is to play solid for seven innings rather than put ourselves in a big hole early and play solid from there. I’ve been trying different pre-game routines and combinations that get them fired up at the start of the game.” DISTRICTChewelah will travel to Medical Lake for the first round of the NEA playoffs, while Freeman visits Kettle Falls for the other first round game on Tuesday (loser out). On Saturday at league champion Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls), the winner of the Chewelah vs. Medical Lake game will play NEA champions Lakeside (17-1, 17-3), while the survivor of the Freeman/Kettle Falls game will play Riverside (16-2, 18-2). The winners will vie in the championship game to determine seeding for the Bi-District tournament (against the Caribou-Trail League) at 3 p.m., while the losing teams will play at 5 p.m. to determine the third and final seed.