Bits & Pieces—Late May Edition
South baseball field update, spring playoffs galore, covering a track meet
Rising out the mire created by vandals, South Salem High’s baseball complex—Gilmore field—is starting to take shape. Saxons coach Max Price says while no games will be held on the field on Hoyt Street SE, the company doing the renovations has rounded the natural turf field into shape after the heavy spring rains finally quit in late April.
Teenage vandals ran a 4X4 truck over the field on a wet night in December. They were caught and arrested—but the destruction was complete. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent as the restoration company—Pacific Sports Turf—repaired deep ruts in the field and replaced broken sprinkler system components. Coach Price put together a set of photographs to show the improvement in the field. Some inexact before and after photos are provided for reader perusal:
Coach Price had said he wanted his team to use the damaged field as a rallying cry to pursue a conference championship. And son-of-a-gun… despite having a team filled with freshmen and sophomores—and a road game heavy schedule, they did take the CVC crown, winning 2 of 3 from Sprague to edge out the Olympians in the standings. However, Sprague’s superior overall schedule gave them a higher OSAA power ranking. Speaking of…
South Salem and Sprague both have home games to open the OSAA 6A baseball playoffs on Monday, while McNary gets a trip to the Portland area this evening.
#25 McNary vs. #8 Lincoln at Milwaukie High School (Lake Road Field-5:00 pm)
The Celtics—under longtime Coach Larry Keeker—snuck into the post season with an OSAA power ranking of 25. That earns them a road contest against Lincoln of Portland. The Cardinals have been dealing with headaches associated with their newly constructed fields in the downtown Portland area. That has moved the game east to Milwaukie High. The Celts are 8-16 on the season, and the third seed from the CVC. Lincoln is the top team out of the PIL with a record of 20-7. The Celts have been outscored by an average of 8.5 to 6 per game. The Cardinals average 8.1 runs per game, and give up 4.6 per game. A strong pitching effort will be needed by the boys from Keizer.
#24 Glencoe at #9 South Salem at John Lewis Field (Spec Keene Stadium)-5:00 pm
South Salem was the CVC’s Cinderella team—sporting a young, but very talented roster. The Saxons (22-4) finished tied with perennial power Sprague at the top of the conference standings, but held the tie breaker by beating the Olympians in 2 of 3 games, including an 11-10 win where they rallied from an 8-0 deficit. Coach Max Price hopes his team has righted the ship with tune-up wins last week after losing to previously winless West Salem to close CVC play. They are averaging 8.4 runs a game, while Glencoe (16-11)—the #3 seed out of the Pacific Conference—pounded out 7.4 runs a contest. The Saxons yielded less than four runs a game on the season, while the Crimson Tide gave up over 5 runs a game. South’s pitching has been generally consistent, while the hitting has been timely.
#26 Sandy at #7 Sprague-5:00 pm
Coach Luke Bucheit’s Olympians (21-6) aren’t flashy, but they are very steady and not to be underestimated, averaging 7.8 runs/game, while yielding a miserly 3.3 runs a contest. They host a Sandy squad (17-9-1) that finished third in the Mt. Hood Conference—scoring 7.2 runs a game, while yielding an impressive 2.9 runs a contest. Sprague normally starts games strong, but has had some recent struggles with pitching in the later innings. Staying solid for seven full innings is key to an Oly win in game one.
An interesting opening night for the Central Valley Conference in the 6A softball playoffs. Four teams are in the mix out of the CVC: McNary and South Salem both are at home, while Sprague and West Salem face challenging road tests on Monday.
#31 Sprague at #2 Oregon City-6:00 pm
The Olys (9-16) made the post season by the skin of their teeth, and get to play the second best team in all of Oregon, if the power rankings are to be believed. Oregon City (23-3) was the top team in the intimidating Three Rivers League. They averaged 6.3 runs a game, while giving up just under two runs every contest. Those numbers are impressive. Sprague averaged 8.1 runs each game, but yielded 8.4 runs defensively. Hitting against a strong Pioneer defense and pitching well against their opportunistic offense will be the key tasks for Sprague coach Madisen Hughes’s team.
#18 West Salem at #14 Lake Oswego-6:00 pm
At first glance, this is a winnable game for the road warrior Titans (14-11) as they travel to face the Lakers (17-9). West Salem actually won six straight games late in the season before getting trounced in a tune up game last Friday against #4 McMinnville 17-1. Coach Ty Nicholson has said playing as a team has been the key this season, and the Titans have a good chance for victory at Lake O if they accomplish that feat. West Salem averaged 6.7 runs per game, while yielding 5.7 a contest. The Lakers scored 6.2 runs on average, while giving up a more manageable 3.7 runs a game. A superior offensive performance by West will be the key to the Titans’ success.
#21 Forest Grove at #12 McNary-5:00 pm
The host Celtics (18-7)—who advanced to the softball semifinals last season—finished with the best record in the Central Valley Conference at 10-2. But they also had a lower power ranking than second place South Salem due to the Saxons superior non-league schedule. The visiting Vikings (12-14) were the fourth place team out of the Pacific Conference. Forest Grove’s offense is fairly stout, at 7.9 runs on average per game. Defensively, they do struggle—giving up nearly six runs a contest. McNary’s offensive and defensive numbers under Coach Kelly Parsell are notably better, with 8.76 runs scored per game, and a defensive yield of just over four runs on average. Linfield bound pitcher Lacey Vasas of McNary could be the difference in the first round contest.
#27 Roseburg at #6 South Salem-5:00 pm
South Salem coach Scott McCormick’s squad finished a game back of McNary in Central Valley Conference action—but the Saxons (19-5) bolstered their state power ranking with stiff defensive efforts against a list of top teams such as McMinnville and North Medford to garner a superior spot in the 6A bracket. South’s power pitcher Rowan Thompson has been a force all season long. The Oregon-bound right hander has been the primary reason at the Saxons have given up a measly 40 total runs—which translates into 1.67 runs per game. On the other side of the field is Roseburg (10-16)—which faces a long drive up Interstate Five before the contest. The fifth seed from the Southwest Conference averages 5.6 runs a game, while giving up six runs per outing. The Indians have been shutout four times since mid-April. If Thompson can find the strike zone consistently for South Salem, the Saxons could make it a short ball game.
Final Thoughts—Covering a track meet
When you are a “one-man band” in covering sports—there are unique challenges that require a little creativity and some donated labor to round out what would be predictably spotty coverage.
A case in point is providing details from a track meet. Confession: there is no way in a small operation that track meets can be covered every week. However, events like a district (conference/league) track meet do require some attention. (NOTE: my beautiful wife does like to remind me that “you are not a sports department.”)
The meets themselves are around four hours in length, involve hundreds of athletes, and generate hundreds of differing numbers out of a dozen-PLUS events. To be on-site just isn’t efficient. I have done public address for track meets for years, so I speak from experience.
The best place to be these days is at a computer away from the meet itself. A web service (athletic.net) pumps out live results. Best not to check the results until much later or the writer will suffer from motion sickness. The other huge assist comes from a volunteer photographer. Laura Ellison of LE Images has her own family to care for, and can’t cover all events any more than I can. However, she routinely puts in several hours in extreme weather conditions—in this case, lots of sunburn-inducing sunshine, to record the happenings at the site. I also have had the opportunity to “borrow” images from parents/coaches who happen to be at the meet—and give the report a different look. Many thanks to those of you who suddenly became a staff photog with no pay. Oh, and one more note—it takes some detective work to provide captions for the photos. Some clues like batons provide clues as to the race being run—and race order can provide more clues. Sometimes—if I have a contact link to a coach, I will send along the photo to ask who “this” is. I get an answer pretty quickly most of the time.
Without all those images, everything that is shared is just a lot of words—which is what happened two or three times during the course of the track season. A list of bare, naked numbers about the best performances to date.
All said, extra time is expended to pull the track experience together for readers. My lovely bride can attest to that.
Thanks to those of you who take a moment to drop a note of appreciation. And when a paid subscription is finally offered, take a moment to strongly consider saying “yes.” I know that money aspect pains many of us, but others might be forgiven for their writing transgressions.
Thanks for reading.
I will second what Coach (and Administrator) Johnson said. And then, your multiple references to your wife…keeping you in line, focused on task. Indeed, trying to cover all the events within a track meet would be like herding cats…, while avoiding getting stuck with a javelin…
Thanks Mark for your efforts in reporting SK athletics events. Having spent most of my career in athletics at South Salem your articles keep me in the game! I would buy your subscription anytime!