Friday, March 26, 2004

Sports

Titans pack some punch, topple Highlanders
Home runs by Boardman, Owen help University remain unbeaten, deny Shadle Park's upset bid

Vince Grippi
Staff writer

In fastpitch softball, when you're given an opportunity, you better take advantage.

Especially when you're playing the defending state champions.

Shadle Park's Highlanders learned that lesson Thursday, as U-Hi rallied for a 4-2 Greater Spokane League win at Shadle.

"We couldn't execute when we needed to," Shadle Park coach George Lynn said and, though he was talking about the Highlanders' offense, he could have been referring to their defense as well.

After Shadle Park
(2-3 overall, 2-2 in the GSL's American Division) had taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, left-handed hitting Nikki Skaggs led off the fifth with a looping single to left.

After Stephanie Trudeau (2-3) struck out the next two hitters -- two of her 17 strikeouts -- leadoff hitter Angie Boardman stepped up for the Titans (5-0, 4-0).

Boardman, who had stroked a home run to left in her previous at-bat, hit a seeing-eye grounder between first and second and beat it out.

Given the extra opportunity, U-Hi took advantage. Actually, Molly Owen took advantage.

Owen, a senior who said she was making her first pitching start in five years, knew Trudeau's pattern.

"I watched how she was pitching everyone else, and how she pitched me earlier," Owen said. "I was looking to hit the first pitch and she hung it a little bit."

Owen drove it just fair down the left-field line -- almost exactly where Boardman hit her home run -- and circled the bases, giving U-Hi the 4-2 lead.

But the Titans were a bit lucky to have yielded just the two runs.

"We had a few too many walks today," University coach Jon Schuh said. "But we play pretty solid defense and that keeps us in games."

Owen walked nine and gave up five hits, but U-Hi's defense bailed her out of trouble in the second and the fifth when Highlanders were tagged out at third on aggressive baserunning plays. Shadle left at least two in the first, fourth and fifth, stranding nine total.

The Highlanders' first run came in the third and used little ball, with a double steal followed by Stephanie McVay's sacrifice fly. The second came in the fourth via the long ball, a drive to left-center by Kenzie Powell.

"If you had told me before the game that there would be three home runs hit, with who was pitching," Schuh said, "I would have said you were crazy."

Given the lead by Owen's home run, Schuh switched pitchers, going to junior Linse Vlahovich, who threw two perfect innings with four strikeouts in earning her first save.

"Molly did her job, then Linse came in and shut them down." Schuh said. "She was cool and collected."

And the Titans' collected the win.

In other softball action: Kim Watson raised her record to 4-0 with her first shutout as Mead (4-0-1, 4-0) routed Clarkston (0-3, 0-3) 11-0. Megan Foster was 4 for 4 for the Panthers while Lacey Parry belted a three-run home run. ... Kristi Rhodes led off the third with a single and scored the go-ahead run as Lewis and Clark (3-1, 2-1) rallied past East Valley 4-1. The Knights are 1-3, 1-2. ... Returning All-GSL performer Carolanne Ingalls was 4 for 4 with a triple, double and two RBI as Central Valley defeated Rogers 5-0. Whitney McDaniel tossed a two-hitter for CV (3-0, 3-0). Rogers is 1-3, 1-3. ... Katie Stokes, Jackie Purser and Sherri Urann combined for six hits, seven RBI and five runs as Mt. Spokane belted Cheney 12-2. The Wildcats raised their record to 2-2-1, 2-2 while Cheney dropped to 1-3, 1-2. ... Hilary Shields held North Central (0-5, 0-4) hitless until two were out in the top of the seventh and West Valley (2-2, 2-2) topped NC 4-0. Shields struck out 14 and walked two. . . . In other softball action, Colville's Melissa Rice tossed a no-hitter and Nikki Bardwell hit two home runs as Colville topped Priest River 5-0.


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