By Jeremy McDonald
SCIO, Ore.– There was a reason to the maddness of facing a Top 10 4A team in Junction City Friday for the Scio Softball team:
Preparation for the postseason.
As the Lady Tigers play host to Gladstone to open the 4A playoffs, seeing the good pitching and a good team from Junction City gives the Lady Loggers something to work towards as they open the 3A Playoffs versus Rogue River Wednesday at home.
“I mean they’re a good team, it’s good to see people like that before playoffs, we did come out hot but something wasn’t clicking for us through the whole game,” said Ashton Phillips who went 2-for-3 in Friday’s game. “It’s really good for us going into playoffs.”30
Scio jumped out 3-2 in what seemed to be turning into a slug-fest with the Tigers, but Junction City took advantage of the Loggers slowness in the second half of the game to seal the regular season-ending game 7-3.
Head Coach Jim Mask is happy with how the team is preforming up to this point with having working to get to this point all year, and though Friday’s game wasn’t their best, it did serve a good purpose compare to this time last year.
“Take aways Friday’s game, we didn’t play great Friday but it was a good game for us,” “We got to see a really good pitcher right before playoffs which we didn’t have the last year,” said Mask. “Last year we were a little slow going into playoffs because we haven’t seen a good pitcher for a while and we have that in our favor (this year).
“But we’ve been working towards this point all season long so the girls are focused and excited to get to this point, I feel really good at where we’re at.”
But hey, a game like this, learning opportunity to get better with the Lady Chieftains of the City of Rogue River in the Grants Pass-area.
Rouge River finished second in the Southern Cascade Conference at 14-5 overall and 7-2 in league, losing to SCC Champs Cascade Christian of Medford twice (8-4, 12-0) en route to the 15th-seed in the playoffs.
And with the loss to the Lady Tigers, it just added a little more fuel for them entering their playoff opener.
“It definitely fires us up more because we picked up that game because we know they’re a better team and it was suppose us to get prep for playoffs and it did, it showed us what we need to work on and that’s a good thing,” said Brooke Young.
With 49 Home-runs overall offensively this year apart of the State’s-best offense (388 total runs) and a defense that’s allowed just 57 runs all season, there is something different about this years team than in years past.
“This year we seem more as a team,” said Young. “We collaborate better and we play better together than we have before, I don’t know what it is but something’s clicked and it’s different and that showed in our game against Dayton last time.”
Confidence is there as Young and Phillips expressed and the feel around the field during Sunday’s go-around was a little bit of everything:
Excitement. Frustrations. Fun and focused as Wednesday’s opener draws nearer of what could be a possible State-berth after two-straight years knocking on the door.
“I’ll think we’ll go as deep as we go every year, if not even farther this year,” said Phillips. “Our goal is to get there and it’s been a goal ever since we came into High School.”
For most of these juniors and seniors, they know of the pain that their nemesis in Rainier have done the past two years, denying them that opportunity of reaching their goal of the State Title game.
But that won’t be the case this year as the Lady Columbians are sitting on the other side of the bracket as the number one-seed and the only way these two-teams would meet is for the State Championship June 2 at the Oregon State University Softball Complex.
And if they get to the semi-final round and to the Finals, it’ll be nice to face someone different in the semi-final round but there’s a slight hope that they’ll get to face them one more time to prove that they can beat them.
“It’s nice just since my freshman year we’ve met up with Rainier two-times in a row in the Semis, but it’ll be nice to meet up with them again just to prove that we can beat them,” said Young. “But it’ll be nice to face something different in the Semis for a change.”
But for now, it’s Rogue River they’ll be most worry about first, first pitch is at 5pm at Scio High School.
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Photos by Jeremy McDonald