Wiebe outduels Vining in opener

Chewelah gets tougher than expected winThe Chewelah Cougars’ base­ball team played the first game of their season last week, win­ning in eight innings at Kettle Falls, 4-2. Caleb Wiebe pitched six strong innings for Chewelah, striking out 10 and only giving up one run, while Calvin Connal got the victory in relief, striking out four and giv­ing up one run in his two in­nings of work. Wiebe outdueled Kettle Falls right-hander, Tyler Vining.Head coach Luke Jeanneret was pleased with the difficult opening win. “For our first game out, I’m happy,” Jeanneret said. “It was nice to get a game in.” The game allowed new catcher Kordell Bean to work closely with two of the Cougars’ strongest pitchers, Wiebe and Connal. “Caleb was efficient with his pitches,” the coach said. “He used only 72 to pitch six innings and ring up ten strikeouts. Calvin put in some pretty good work in his two innings too. And what Kordell did behind the plate put some people at ease. I think he’s going to be a good catcher.” This was the first game for the Cougars under the new bat rules set forth by the WIAA. It seems that the new, slower velo­cities of the ball coming off the bat will help the pitching-rich Cougars even more this season.At any rate, look for more low-scoring games and less “pop” from those metal bats.“There was a ball hit by Tyler Vining from Kettle Falls that last year would have gotten over the out­fielder’s head and may have had a chance to get out,” Jean­neret related of a ball hit by Kettle’s pitcher in the opener at Kettle Falls. “But this year, it was a routine fly ball. This is going to take away the smaller player hitting a ball over the outfielder’s head...it’s just like hitting with a wood bat. It’ll be fun to see what happens.”As usual, the weather is as much of a factor in the early baseball season as any player. This week will be no exception. Periods of rain this week may change the schedule again. As of Monday, Tuesday’s game against Freeman was up in the air because the baseball fields at Freeman and Chewelah are still unplayable. Freeman, with a soggy field all last spring, is still trying to find an alternate site to play. On Friday and Sat­urday, the Cougars will be trav­eling to Col­fax for a two-day tournament. Wiebe, Connal (7) and Bean; Vining, McNeil (7) and Cook. W-Connal (1-0). L-McNeil (0-1).HITS: Chewelah: 2B-Baker. 3B-Connal.