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AREA NOTEBOOK: Red River, Grand Forks Central to play six East Region counter games in five days

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Pitching depth for the Grand Forks high school baseball teams will be tested.

Next week, beginning Monday with a 5 p.m. game against Red River, Grand Forks Central will play six East Region counter games in a five-day span. Red River has four counter games next week; the following week, the Roughriders have five counter games in four days.

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“I’m sure there have been at least a few years where that schedule would have been a problem for us,” Red River coach Mark Varriano said. “But we have 9-10 guys we can throw this year.”

That depth is led by the quality trio of Ryan Richardson, Brady Regimbal and Colin Hennessy.

“Ryan has been lights out when he’s thrown,” Varriano said. “And Colin and Brady are real good. I’m not saying we have the top three pitchers in the region. But I feel they’re the top threesome in the league.

“And our other kids, as long they throw strikes, can keep us in games. We should be able to pick up the ball behind them. We’ve played pretty good defense.”

Central’s pitching strength is in its numbers.

Zach Walz has been the ace. “He’s tough,” GFC coach Kyle Beckstead said. “He throws pretty hard and he mixes up his stuff.”

But, Beckstead said, the Knights have to rely on their depth.

“If we have a guy pitching well, we’ll let him go as far as he can,” Beckstead said. “But we’ll usually use two or three pitchers in a game. We limit their innings, so we can use them a few times in a week.

“We have to have pitching by committee. We don’t have that one guy who will usually give us 6-7 innings and dominate a game.”

Big Wave bats

East Grand Forks Senior High has put up some big numbers on the softball diamond.

The 4-2 Green Wave are averaging 10.7 runs and 11.8 hits While the Wave have had some explosive games, they’ve also been consistent. Senior High has had at least seven runs and seven hits in every game.

“They go up with the mindset to hit,” Senior High coach Heidi Spicer said. “Our biggest weakness might be that we swing at everything because we want to hit the ball so badly. And, for the most part, we are putting the ball in play.

“We have practically the whole team back from last season. That experience has helped. This year we’re hitting the ball with more authority.”

Senior High had 17 extra-base hits. Leading the offense has been Karly Nelson (.611 batting average), Sam Rarick (.480) and Kayla Nelson (.417).

Grandfather’s award

During the Grand Forks Central awards night Wednesday, the winner of the Serge Gambucci award was Katie Sween.

That had special meaning to the senior. Sween is the granddaughter of Gambucci, the legendary coach at Central who died last month at the age of 91.

“My family knew (ahead of the announcement) that I was getting it, but it was a surprise to me,” Sween said. “I was extremely honored, very happy and excited. It meant a lot to me.

Sween is one of the top players on the Knights’ tennis team. While Gambucci is probably best remembered as Central’s highly successful boys hockey coach, he also was a longtime tennis coach.

“He was my hero,” Sween said, “my biggest role model, somebody who always there for me, for everything, watching and supporting me.

“It was very emotional, a lot of smiles, when I got the award. Afterwards, with my family, there were a few tears of happiness.”

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