Picture
Pendleton staff ace Kristen Crawford (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — As the girls left the diamond at Oregon State University’s Softball Complex last June, weighed down by a 7-6 state title game loss to West Albany, coach Tim Cary had a message for his team.

“There’s no reason we can’t come back here next year,” the coach said.

Whether the statement was a rallying cry for hope or just a bandage to ease the stinging shards of broken dreams, Pendleton has now come full circle. The Buckaroos are back in 2012, still looking to claim the school’s first softball championship.


 
 
Picture
Weston-McEwen pitcher Dallas Reich (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ATHENA — When Weston-McEwen and Kennedy met in Irrigon in March, TigerScots coach T.J. Haguewood said the meeting already had a championship feeling to it.

Two months after the Trojans surged and turned a tight game into a 13-3 blowout, the teams are once again eyeing each other on the schedule for a neutral-site game. Weston-McEwen (22-4) and Kennedy (26-4) will play in the Class 2A/1A State Championship on Friday, each looking for the schools’ first state titles. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. from Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

The tournament brackets shook out much like the OSAA rankings intended. The championship game pits a pair of No. 1 seeds against each other for the crown. Weston-McEwen has the slight edge as the overall first seed and draws the benefit of the final at-bat as home team in the matchup.


 
 
Picture
Mustang Baily Bennett (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HEPPNER — The Glendale juggernaut is scoring like no other softball team in the state this season. Baily Bennett is pitching at a dream clip for Heppner. On Friday in Corvallis, these two immovable objects will collide.

The No. 1 overall Mustangs will face the No. 1 seed from the bottom half of the bracket in the Pirates at 4 p.m. at the Oregon State Softball Complex in a battle to decide which rock will crack first. The boulder with fewer chips will have one Class 2A/1A state title to show for it.

Bennett leads a Heppner (22-4) team that hasn’t needed to bust a fuse in the scoreboards this season because of her controlling work in the pitching circle. The junior’s ERA is under a half of a run per seven innings and she’s whiffed 176 batters with jolting speed and accuracy.

The Special District 5 champions will need every bit of pop in those pitches because it’s not often that the Glendale bats miss their mark. The Pirates (28-1) have seven batters who are hitting above — and three way, way above — .500 for the season. Junior identical twins Lizeth and Lizbeth Silva each bat just under the .600 mark. But Morgan Streeter is club president, hitting for a .605 average.


 
 
Picture
David Barnett throws the javelin at the 2011 state track meet. (Photo by Kathy Aney)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — The bus to Eugene on Thursday was more full than Dave Rohrman could ever remember, at least during his 11 years as Hermiston head track and field coach. Twenty five seats were occupied by Bulldogs ready to compete in the Class 5A State Championships, more than even during a few strong seasons for Hermiston in the 1980s and 90s.

“There’s no way that we’ve ever taken this many kids,” Rohrman said.

The Hermiston girls 4x100-meter relay team will line up for the first heat of the meet this morning at 10:30 a.m. at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field and will begin the barrage of Bulldog competitors. Fourteen from the girls’ team and 11 from the boys’ will represent the purple and gold.


 
 
Picture
Pendleton coach Tim Cary and batter Tiah Grass fist bump. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Kristen Crawford didn’t have her best swing-and-miss stuff while pitching in the first round of the Class 5A state softball playoffs Wednesday, but the Pendleton senior dominated another way. Crawford threw to contact and kept her defense on its toes as the Bucks advanced past Churchill, 7-0.

Crawford might as well have invested in a summer home along the bottom of the strike zone for the amount of time the pitcher spent there. Her sinking pitches caused 14 ground outs over seven innings versus just three in the air.

That kept the game zipping along and sustained the energy  in the Pendleton defenders, third baseman Darian Lindsey said.


 
 
Picture
Mac-Hi's Pancho Saldana (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOILNI
East Oregonian

MILTON-FREEWATER — When Pancho Saldana steps up to throw, the track meet stops to watch. Well maybe not the whole meet, his brother Jesus said, but definitely anyone within the vicinity of the javelin throwers.

That includes teammates, nearby coaches, his opponents and even competitors from other events and schools.

“Everyone just goes right there,” said Jesus, a fellow javelin man for the Mac-Hi Pioneers track and field team. “It’s just like, ‘Daaang,’”

The pudgy freshman has transformed into a sculpted athlete peaking in his final high school season. His throws have the raw strength that harkens back to cave paintings of early man spearing his dinner, but Saldana adds in the precision that can only come from intensive studying.


 
 
Picture
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — It’s a heck of a year to be a TigerScot.

The Weston-McEwen boys won the Special District 6 championship baseball game by defeating Stanfield 6-2 on Saturday, sweeping the team boys’ league titles during the 2011-2012 school year. The Athena-based school also won Blue Mountain Conference crowns for football and basketball.

During the title bout — played at Pendleton’s Bob White Field — Weston-McEwen (19-4, 13-1 SD6) called upon its ace Dallas Reich and the pitcher didn’t disappoint. After a shaky start allowing a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, Reich locked in on the Tigers hitters and held the team to two hits the rest of the way.

Weston-McEwen first baseman Jerad Croswell ranges near the Pilot Rock dugout to catch a foul ball. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)

 
 
Picture
Pilot Rock's Dustin Dedios bats against Dufur's Boone Little. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — The Pilot Rock baseball team won’t play any state tournament games this season — and the Rangers from Dufur made sure of that in just one inning.

The Rockets (10-10, 8-6 SD6) allowed 10 runs in the bottom of the first and staff ace Tyler “Chuck” Simmons failed to work out of the inning as Dufur demolished Pilot Rock 13-2 on Saturday morning at the Special District 6 baseball tournament. The teams played at Bob White Field in Pendleton.

“We didn’t make the plays we needed to, just didn’t get it done” a frustrated Pilot Rock coach Chris Byrd said.


 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Volunteer coach Melissa Bowerman drew more than strange looks when she escorted a boy from the Condon/Wheeler track and field team to the Condon High School prom last month.

Two weeks later the 41-year-old was dismissed from her duties, just before the team swept the district meet and qualified 17 athletes for this weekend's state meet in Monmouth.

The district investigated Bowerman after learning the coach accompanied a 17-year-old to the school dance April 20, said Condon School District Superintendent Jan Zarate. She and Brad Sperry, the superintendent of Fossil School District, with which Condon co-ops for athletics, called Bowerman on May 1 to dismiss her from the team.

 
 
Picture
Pendleton's Shea Lindsey slides safely into home. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Determination radiated from the Pendleton softball team with each ensuing run as the score climbed higher and higher Thursday. As the game moved out of reach, the Milwaukie players just looked happy to be there, cheers and chants emanating from behind the chain link fence in the dugout.

The Bucks erupted for a 17-1 victory in the play-in round of the postseason at home, brushing off the Mustangs on their way into the first round of OSAA playoffs next week. Pendleton (19-7) will host another game in the Round of 16, and as the likely top seed, will draw the lowest ranked team remaining.