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Talented Wildcats will be a true Class 6A state title contender when and if the season begins

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Westview junior infielder Mason Guerra is one of the best power hitters in the Metro League.

Many high school baseball teams daydream about state championships, very few can actually turn those ambitions into actual, tangible effect.

Westview is in a select class of elites along with the likes of Jesuit, Central Catholic, Clackamas and Lakeridge, programs that can truly contend for a Class 6A state championship come June. Circumstantially, everyone knows by now the spring sports season is in peril because of COVID-19. Governor Brown suspended schools state-wide until April 28 and the OSAA followed suit by postponing the start of the spring season through the same date. The Wildcats, like every athletic program in the state at the moment, are in limbo. They can't practice as a team. Any working out has to be conducted on their own, without teammates. Baseball is a game of repetition, rhythm and routine all of which have been thoroughly disrupted. There is no guarantee of a season. But cancelation is far from certain too. Every spring sport has its fingers crossed, hoping some sort of season can get off the ground.

"I'm hoping, for the seniors, that we are allowed to play some games this spring," Westview head coach Matt Bailie said. "Just allow all those seniors to compete one last time. Let us play each league opponent one time. NCAA can give extra eligibility, high schools cannot."

Talent-wise, Westview has few peers. Junior infielder Mason Guerra is perhaps the best hitter in the Metro League. The Oregon State commit showed off the clutch gene as a freshman, coming up huge in critical situations throughout the postseason when Westview won the 6A state crown in 2018, Bailie's first year at the helm. The fastball-feasting man child more than held his own as a sophomore, even when he didn't have the same protection around him in the lineup. In the first round of the 6A playoffs against Sprague last year, Guerra hit a ball about 390 feet to straightaway center in the bottom of the seventh with the bags full. Unfortunately, Westview's home park is one of the biggest in the state, especially to center. The Olympians were able to get underneath Guerra's rainbow to pull off the upset. Still, Guerra has light-tower power. He'll hit in the heart of the order, either at the three spot or cleanup. Fellow juniors Ben Munson and Caden Rickman were first-team All-Metro honorees at pitcher and outfielder, respectively. Junior southpaw Braeden Munger was all-league as a pitcher and outfielder. Senior right-handed pitcher Dominic Barela was honorable mention All-Metro. Catcher Josiah Shipley in the conference conversation for strongest arm from behind the backstop. He'll manage a pitching staff that's deep with talented, experienced arms.

"We can compete with every team that we play, we have a chance to win the league if things fall in place for us," Bailie said. "Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen."

Only Jesuit can counter the Wildcats' cache of athletes. Bailie said the Crusaders look to be the favorite as they return several key players from last year's state title-winning team including superstar pitcher Mick Abel. If heaven forbid, this season is wiped away, Westview will go into the summer and 2021 season as the 6A favorites with so many juniors slated to return next year. But these players, coaches and parents aren't concerned with next season. They want all the hard work they put in last summer playing travel ball, in the fall and the winter grinding away in the weight room and batting cages when nobody was watching, to pay off. Here's hoping they have the chance.

"We have to work hard in every practice and make adjustments as we compete," Bailie said. "Give everything you have and at the end of the day you can keep your head up high win or lose."

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