CWAC softball: Selah, Othello, Ellensburg early front-runners

April 3, 2013 

With West Valley’s move down to Class 2A, the Rams are a new contender for the CWAC title. Selah and Ellensburg traditionally have battled it out with Othello, and the Vikings have the early edge this season. Reigning CWAC MVP McKenzie Zerr has pitched five shutouts for Selah in six league games, and senior catcher Sarah Bersing (13 hits, 14 RBIs in league play) is living up to her first-team reputation.

Othello’s two losses came against Selah, but the Huskies pushed the Vikings to eight innings in Game 2 of their doubleheader. Excluding the Selah games, Madison Martinez has not allowed a run all year, while Kim Bullis gave up two against Prosser. Holly Fleshman, Bullis, Kalinda Kosters, Sofie Rodriguez, Tori Zambrano and Daisy Salgado have been reliable run producers for the Huskies.

As proof of the clear competitive divide in the CWAC, Ellensburg outscored Wapato, Prosser and Toppenish 132-3 in its first three conference doubleheaders. Ally Burgess is back in the circle for the Bulldogs, and fellow first-teamers Mackenzie Hughes and Taelor Griffin have returned with big offense. Ellensburg will have a tougher time at the plate, however, when it comes up against Zerr, Bullis, Martinez and West Valley’s Halley Ringer.

Grandview has been off to a strong start as well. Freshman pitcher Cali Castilleja is 6-2 overall with veterans Destiny Zavala, Marissa Caballero and Yareli Pedroza backing her up in the infield. If seniors Rikki Verduzco (.583, 6 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 8 RBIs), Samanta Castaneda (.320, 14 R, 10 SBs), Pedroza (.409, 7 RBIs) and Jazzmine Cruz (.444, 10 SBs) can keep contributing offensively, the Greyhounds should be a postseason lock.

East Valley also has the ability to challenge for a playoff spot — it split with West Valley in its CWAC opener — but the Red Devils, who graduated first-team catcher Kellie Ross and infielder Ashlee Betancourth, must shift into a higher gear if they want to stay in the top six.

Ephrata has sophomores Sara Dodson and Brook Stutzman shouldering the load in the circle, which will benefit the Tigers long term. NWAACC commits Lauren Laird (Yakima Valley CC) and Kayla Brissey (Everett CC) are back for one more season.

Prosser has struggled early as it adjusts to life without first-team infielder Kenzie Koch (University at Buffalo). Makayla Morrow remains the Mustangs’ No. 1 pitcher, but she hasn’t gotten much run support — Prosser has not scored more than three runs in a game. Brittany Keller, Morrow, Cheyenne Silva and freshman Ariah Yager appear to be the best bets to rev up the offense.

Though Toppenish and Wapato are stuck in the CWAC cellar, there are positives for both teams. Toppenish has eight returning starters and nine newcomers, and the infusion of youth is boosting the Wildcats’ morale. Ivanna Aguilar and Karli Wahpat will give Toppenish stability in the circle entering next season. Meanwhile, Wapato boasts athletic pitcher Justine Sosa and infielder Darian Gasseling, both of whom played in the state basketball tournament.

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