Spring sports heat up throughout the region with outstanding performances, key matchups

Former Kamiakin standout Andrea Stapleton-Johnson, shown here in a 2017 file photo, broke a 25-year-old school record for BYU on Friday when she cleared 6-2.5 in the women’s high jump at the BYU Cougar Invitational.
Former Kamiakin standout Andrea Stapleton-Johnson, shown here in a 2017 file photo, broke a 25-year-old school record for BYU on Friday when she cleared 6-2.5 in the women’s high jump at the BYU Cougar Invitational. Nate Edwards/BYU

Fans of the Tri-Cities Alliance FC can get a first-hand look at the team when it plays host to the Spokane Shadow at 2 p.m. Sunday at Edgar Brown Stadium.

This is the second season of Evergreen Premier League play for the Alliance.

The EPL is a 10-team league scattered around Washington, and it’s considered the highest level of semi-pro soccer being played in the Northwest.

The Alliance opened its 2019 EPL season last weekend with a 2-2 tie in Yakima against the host United.

“It was a tough game,” said Alliance head coach Ramiro De La Mora. “The grass was a little long, and it made things slower. But I thought our team played solid, even though we were missing four to five starters who had personal commitments. We still put together a good team that day.”

The Alliance is a Tri-Cities-heavy squad. There are three players from the Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater area.

“But the rest of our guys are from Pasco, Kennewick and Richland,” said De La Mora.

One of the Alliance’s key players is keeper Jose Herrera, who was a standout in net for Richland High and then CBC about 15 years ago.

“And our captain is Miguel ‘Speedy’ Acevedo, who graduated from Pasco High around 2007 or so,” said De La Mora.

Juan “Petey” Martinez, from Milton-Freewater, is another standout for the Alliance, said De La Mora.

Other players mentioned include Mario Guizar (Kamiakin grad), Joey Graham (Pasco), Luis Martinez (Kamiakin), Jose Lucatero (Chiawana) and Hector Magana (Pasco).

“So we have a variety of talent, from older to younger players,” said De La Mora.

The coach said this team’s biggest strength is the way it combines and moves the ball around the field.

“It’s ball control and movement,” he said. “We’ve had two preseason games and one EPL game, and we’ve controlled the ball about 75 percent of the time.”

The team weakness right now?

“Communication,” said De La Mora. “This is the second year that a lot of these guys have played at this high of a level. When you play at the lower levels, you can get away with things because of your talent. But at this level, you also have to communicate with each other.”

The EPL is divided into two five-team divisions, with the top two in each division advancing to the EPL playoffs in July.

The Alliance just missed the playoffs last year in its inaugural season.

De La Mora expects Improvement this season. Much more improvement.

“A championship is the only thing that will make me happy this year,” he said. “Anything less, and I wouldn’t want to do this.”

Prep softball

Richland advanced to the 4A state tournament on Friday night by rallying past Hanford 3-2 in eight innings.

Hanford pitcher Annie Polster had the Bombers’ number for much of the night, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth against a Richland team that has averaged 13 runs a game. She also had 11 strikeouts in the game.

The Falcons led 2-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, and the Bombers were down to their final strike. But Sydney Perryman hit a two-run single to tie the game. Then, in the eighth, Makenna Ozuna’s RBI single gave Richland the walk-off win.

Great effort by Polster and the Falcons, who are still alive in the district tournament and will play May 18 against the winner of Saturday’s Walla Walla at Chiawana game.

Richland, meanwhile, will play Central Valley – a 3-2 winner Friday night over Lewis & Clark in 10 innings – on May 18 to determine the 1 and 2 seeds to state.

In fact, everything moves to Columbia Playfield on May 18 to determine the seeding order to state.

Hanford plays either Chiawana or Walla Walla that day at noon in a loser-out contest. The winner then plays either University or Lewis & Clark at 2 p.m. for the third state berth.

The Richland-Central Valley game will also be a 2 p.m.

• Hermiston entered the 3A district tournament Friday night as the worst Mid-Columbia Conference seed.

But that didn’t seem to bother the Bulldogs, who beat Shadle Park 8-1 and then edged top-seeded Kennewick 3-2.

That means the Bulldogs will play at Southridge at 5 p.m. Wednesday for the top berth to the state tournament.

Southridge also won twice on Friday, pounding Rogers 12-2 before knocking off host Mt. Spokane 6-4.

Other tournament games scheduled Wednesday include Shadle Park at Mt. Spokane and Rogers at Kennewick. Both games are loser-out contests, and both are set for 4 p.m.

College track

There were some big performances in college track for some of our area’s athletes this weekend, and we’re not even done with Saturday as this is written.

Madison Doepker (Walla Walla graduate) won the women’s javelin event at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships on Friday in Missoula, Mont.

Doepker, competing for Eastern Washington University, tossed the javelin 154 feet, 8 inches.

Then Doepker’s teammate, Samantha Raines (Kamiakin), won the women’s pole vault with a height of 13 feet, 4.5 inches. Raines, in fact, was part of a 1-2-3 EWU sweep in the event with teammates Elizabeth Prouty and Katrina Terry.

Also on Friday, Andrea Stapleton-Johnson (Kamiakin) broke a 25-year-old school record for BYU when she cleared 6-2.5 in the women’s high jump at the BYU Cougar Invitational.

What makes this even cooler is her father, Dave Stapleton, holds the men’s high jump record at BYU at 7-5.5.