There’s a lot on the line today in the Richland-Kamiakin softball doubleheader at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick.
A sweep and Richland (11-1) walks away with the Mid-Columbia Conference title. A split, and a Walla Walla sweep of Hanford, and the Bombers, Braves and Blue Devils will be in a three-way tie for first.
The Bombers would rather go with the sweep, and with the return of all-league pitcher Kayla Andrews, that just might be a possibility.
Andrews, who is just 2-0 this season, has been limited in the circle because of a muscle strain under her right shoulder blade. She’s not sure how it happened, but she’s happy it’s better.
“I woke up one morning (in March) and it was sore,” said Andrews, a junior. “I pitched and then I went to bat and it was killing me.”Richland coach Casey Emery said the injury likely started in her feet and worked its way up, throwing a money wrench into her pitching mechanics.
“She’s got flat feet, which caused her to throw incorrectly,” Emery said. “She got some inserts for her shoes and she’s been doing therapy. She pitched a couple of innings last week. I could tell in the first inning her velocity was up but the location wasn’t there. Last night (Tuesday at Walla Walla), they were both there. Hopefully the rust is off and there are no setbacks.”
Andrews struck out five and walked none in picking up the win in the second game against the Blue Devils.
“It’s fun to be back out there,” Andrews said. “I really missed pitching.”
Emery rested Andrews on Wednesday and the plan is to get the 6-foot right-hander in the circle against the Braves.
“Kamiakin is one of the best hitting teams in the state,” Emery said. “If there are no setbacks between now and then, she will start one of the two on Friday.”
While Andrews was on the sidelines, senior Paige Goulet (6-1) and sophomore Abby Perryman (3-0) have shouldered the load in the circle.
“Paige has been through all the battles,” Emery said. “Abby has been a pleasant surprise. She’s a strong right-hander and throws hard. She has won some key games for us.”
Goulet, an all-league pitcher last year, is thankful for the help.
“Abby has been doing awesome,” she said. “If we need her to throw the second game, she’ll be fine.”
Andrews was relegated to playing first base and being a designated hitter as she went through physical therapy, but Goulet is happy to have her back in the rotation.
“It’s nice to see her go seven innings again,” Goulet said.
It’s not like Andrews wasn’t pulling her weight during the season. She’s hitting over .500, has four home runs and 26 RBIs.
“Kayla’s always great at the plate,” Goulet said. “She has been able to contribute a huge amount even if she isn’t in the circle.”
“(Andrews) is a big kid and keeps herself in shape,” Emery added. “Her best friend is catcher April Utecht. They lift weights and condition together.”
The extra work has paid off for Utecht, as well. She has 14 home runs on the season and was named WIAA Athlete of the Week for 4A softball after going 6-for-6 with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs in a doubleheader against Chiawana.
1A Softball: Connell pitcher Ashley Thompson was named WIAA Athlete of the Week after throwing her fourth perfect game of the season. She struck out all 15 batters she faced in the first game of a sweep of Warden. She also added a home run, a double and three RBIs. In the second game, she struck out 12 and hit a double.