The Chiawana Riverhawks had a lot of unknowns to start the season, but in the end, they found themselves with an 8-6 Mid-Columbia Conference record, the 4A’s No. 2 seed into the playoffs, and for the first time in program history, avoided the dreaded play-in game.
“It was good not to have to play Pasco in the play-in game,” Chiawana coach Dave Price said. “It was good to have an extra day to prepare instead of fighting to stay in.”
Pasco upset Richland 2-1 on Tuesday in the play-in game and will play at Gonzaga Prep at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
The Riverhawks will host Ferris at 5 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the MCC/GSL regional tournament.
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“We are ready,” Price said. “For the guys, it’s just another game. There is no pressure on them.”
Price said his team has benefited from strong senior leadership, team chemistry and players willing to play positions they haven’t played before.
“We didn’t have a third baseman and we asked a freshman to step in,” Price said of Riley Cissne. “He’s hit .389 with 11 RBIs and had played well in the field with just two errors.”
The Riverhawks are still on the fence as to who will get the start against Ferris — junior right-hander Marco Romero or senior left-hander Brayde Hirai.
In the other 4A regional games, Walla Walla hosts Mead at 4 p.m., while Hanford is at Central Valley at 5 p.m.
Southridge lost nearly a dozen players off of last year’s team, but senior center fielder Noah Weber said the team’s inexperience hasn’t cost them much this season.
“At the beginning of the season we were nervous because we hadn’t had (Tim) Sanders as our main coach (before),” Weber said. “After the first few games, we settled in.”
The Suns went 12-2 in MCC play and won the regular-season title. They will play with the winner of Friday’s 2 p.m. loser-out game between Kennewick and Shadle Park game at 6 p.m. in the MCC/GSL tournament. Both games are at Southridge High School.
“This year’s team is an extension of the previous two or three years they have been in the program,” Suns coach Tim Sanders said. “What we have done is not surprising to us. Our coaching staff from freshmen on up is incredible.”
The Suns have scored a ton of runs this season, and have produced on the mound, as well, despite the new pitch count regulations.
“We have used 12 arms this season,” Sander said. “Roles develop and the strength of our staff is strength in numbers.”
Wyatt Hull, Tyson Daniels, Mason Perez and Mason Martin have gotten the lion’s share of the work on the mound.
The Suns weren’t giving away their starter, but you can bet they will bring the heat.
“I like the way they battle,” Sanders said of his team. “It’s the little things along the way that make things happen.”
In other 3A games, Kamiakin plays North Central at 2 p.m. in a loser-out game Friday at Mt. Spokane High School. The winner takes on Mt. Spokane at 5 p.m.