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Southridge starts slow, Clackamas capitalizes

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge junior pitcher Parker Stidham has taken over as the Skyhawks Tuesday starter and hopes to set the tone in each Metro League series this season.

It’s only late March, but the defending state runner-up Clackamas Cavaliers looked prepared to go another long postseason run.

At the same time, Southridge — the team Clackamas beat in the 2013 semifinals — appeared appropriately rusty and retooling on Thursday in a 12-0 loss at home. The Skyhawks’ best baseball is ahead of them, though with big holes to fill both on the diamond and in the lineup, it’ll take time and patience for Southridge to again stake claim to state title contention.

“It was definitely a reality check,” said senior catcher Alex Beekman. “Now, we know where we need to get better. We know the type of competition that we’re going to see down the road. That’s always important to see where other teams are at. They’re the best of the best. To see that this early in the season was a really good test to see where we are and where we need to grow.”

“It was a wake-up call for the rest of the season,” added junior pitcher Parker Stidham. “We came out a little bit lax. We didn’t come in precise and focused like we should have. You just have to shake it off, have a short-term memory and get ready for the next one.”

From the opening batter Clackamas let it be known it will be in the race for 6A supremacy, smacking a leadoff home run in the first inning that kindled a 6-0 edge going into the second stanza. The Cavs added two more runs in the fourth and three additional scores in the seventh, while the Skyhawks struggled to put the ball in play versus Clackamas’ stingy pitching staff.

“One of the things we’re gonna learn with this group is we have to stay positive,” said Beekman. “We have to stay up and keep our heads in the game because after that first inning you could tell we were deflated. We weren’t in it anymore, and that’s what kills a team. We need that momentum to take us where we want to go, and if we don’t have that we’re really nothing.”

Stidham was the victim of Clackamas’ commencing solo jack and, was nearly knocked off his feet by a single bash back up the middle that scored two runs. Yet, the junior started shook the shaky start and the painful graze off his pitching shoulder by retiring three straight to limit the Cavs’ damage.

“The first guy hits a bomb, it’s kind of hard to bounce back,” said Stidham. “It all comes down to a pitcher throwing strikes, and the defense backing you up. The most important part is thinking about the game being 0-0, keep throwing strikes and attacking. You can’t fold.”

“It’s early in the season and everybody’s getting playing time, so it was good to see what we needed to work on,” said first baseman Jacob Calo.

Southridge’s defense had three errors in the first three innings, many of which can be polished up with more game-time repetitions.

“We need to clean up the little things on the field because we kind of got down on ourselves early,” said Calo. “Once that happened, we didn’t really have any momentum. It’s hard to get that going when you have so many errors at the beginning.”

“To fix those mistakes you just have to forget about them,” added Stidham. “It comes down to keeping your head in the game and get ready to win the next one.”

The Skyhawks flashed a number of promising defensive plays that superseded the early spring start. Catcher Cameron Nowack gunned down a potential base stealer in the third. Center fielder Brannon Raines collected a Cavalier double in the left-center gap, relayed the ball into shortstop Sam Rzpecki who fired the ball to Matthew Orcutt at third for the bang-bang second out of the fourth inning.

After Orcutt took over for Stidham on the hill, the 6-foot-3 righty skied for a chopper up the middle, gloved the ball and scooped it to first for an out.Yet, Southridge only put three runners on base for the duration of the contest.

And, they accumulated just one infield single on the afternoon versus a Cavalier team that has a number of quality arms.

“(Clackamas) was throwing pretty good stuff, and I don’t think we were ready for it,” said Beekman. “We hadn’t seen anything all season like that.We weren’t loading early enough. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t get the sticks going, but we’ll come back and take care of business.”

Stidham said Clackamas’ pitching staff did a solid job of working the inside and outer half of the plate, and took advantage of a tight strike zone from the home plate umpire.

“We’re trying to be situational hitters,” said Stidham. “But when he throws a good fastball on the inside, then’ll he’ll break off a curveball that’s tough to expect. It’s tough to hit off that.”



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