By Jeremy McDonald
CENTRALIA, Wash.– With the summer baseball coming to a close in the Pacific Northwest this weekend, ballplayers from the States of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah converged at Forst Borst Park to go through the Baseball Northwest bracket play.
To start on Friday, the student-part of student-athlete was on full force. But it wasn’t quite necessarily the pencils-on-binder paper just yet, but it was showcasing the hard-work of those athletes who showcased their brainpower as well as their ability to make plays on the diamond as well.
Having to meet the rigorous demands of meeting the 3.7 GPA and meeting the 1270 standard on the SAT as part of the classroom portion of the criteria, athletes are recommended, and Sprague’s Michael Soper was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to play in the Academic Game
“It takes a lot of dedication to come home, especially after a baseball game. Your dead tired, you just got to come home and get your work in. Get it done, get to sleep and do it again the next day,” said Soper, who sports a hefty 3.85 GPA entering his senior season for the Olympians. “It’s really fun to see how my hard work in the classroom has paid off on the field.”
After his Junior season that saw Soper garner first-time all-utility player while was an important component part of Sprague’s 19-10, quarterfinal season this past Spring as he wraps up his summer in the wood bat tournament.
“It’s good to see better level pitching, you get a sense of where you are lacking and where you can do better, so I’m going to take that and work on it over the next couple of weeks,” said Soper.
As for the three-games in one day thing as he juggled the Academic game with his Oregon State 2019 team…eh well, it’s baseball.
“Well in showcases, you don’t always play every inning. But being out here and giving it my all, it’s tiring,” smiled Soper.
Around the baseball complex were faces familiar to Soper from the Greater Valley Conference: Noah Juarez (West Salem), several from South Salem like Sean Alvarado, Danny Alvarado and Noah Ferguson. Future Sprague teammate in Ethan Johnson, McNary’s David Allen and North Salem’s Will Tsukamaki to name a few.
Tsukamaki, who was playing alongside Sean Alvarado, Soper and Juarez, hit his first-ever High School level Home Run in their game against the Washington Metro team. The incoming Viking Senior’s Home Run was just part of back-to-back dingers for the Oregon State 2019 team Saturday.
“Oh it felt pretty good, I didn’t know it was off the bat. I thought it was a double, so I was running for that,” said Tsukamaki on the home run against a very-talented Washington Metro team that had most of their roster filled with six-footers. “It feels pretty good, I felt a lot of good momentum coming off of it.”
South Salem’s Ferguson was a part of the Oregon Metro team as the Saxon Senior-to-be got the nod at second base behind one of 4A’s strongest arms in North Marion’s Griffin Henry.
Ferguson and the infield backed the incoming Huskie Senior Henry who was pitching to a carrousel of two catchers that included Henry’s twin brother Grant, but a late three-run home run in the seventh inning ended the game in a tie as pool play wrapped up Saturday.
“It just shows that we have to play all 21 outs, just being able to start and finish all the way through those last three. They’re always tough to get, especially when they start putting pressure you got to be able to focus and be able to get that last out,” said Ferguson as they look to finish summer strong Sunday. “If we just play like we did today and just being able to finish it out. We had a shutout going into the last out, so just putting everything together.”
Day 3 is Sunday as the Boys of Summer put a bookmark to the end of the summer season.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald