North Marion prepares to host 4A All-Star Series
With the conclusion of the 2019 high school baseball season, the best seniors in the state in the 4A Classification will descend on North Marion High School for one final swing of the bat.
The North Marion Huskies will play host to the 2019 Oregon 4A Baseball All-Star Series on June 15 and 16, an annual celebration of the top 4A graduating players in Oregon.
"You get a chance to see all the top seniors from throughout the state of Oregon at the 4A level compete against each other," North Marion head coach Randy Brack said. "It's kind of their last hurrah for their four years of high school baseball and their accomplishments, and it's always a fun time."
The event will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and for the first time in history, will take place outside the friendly confines of historic Legion Field in Roseburg.
The Southern Oregon region used to be a hotbed for 4A talent, but as the landscape for high school athletics changed across the state over the decades, the event became less and less of a local draw and more of a trek for incoming players.
The most drastic change came in 2006 when the OSAA added two new classifications, bumping the biggest high schools up to 6A and 5A, while smaller schools were moved into the 3A, 2A and 1A leagues. As a result, the Roseburg-area was no longer a hub for 4A players, ultimately leading to moving the event to Bob Brack Stadium at North Marion this year.
"Over the last several years down in Roseburg, the attendance has really dropped," Brack said. "Mainly because in Douglas County, there are no longer any 4A high schools. They've all dropped down to 3A, so there's no local interest in what was going on down there."
Teams are roughly divided by region, representing schools in the North and South. Coaching staffs are determined by the most successful programs of the season, with coaches from semifinalists Henley and Hidden Valley representing the South while coaches from Astoria and Gladstone will skipper the North.
State finalist Banks would have supplied one of the North coaches, but Brack said head coach Joe Baumgartner had a family vacation scheduled, so Gladstone's Casey Webster will step in instead.
Players from around the state will arrive on Saturday and be treated to a banquet and introduction in the afternoon at North Marion High School before taking the field that evening for a nine-inning contest. The teams will return on Sunday for a pair of seven-inning games to conclude the event.
With 18 athletes on each team, the event acts like a true MLB All-Star game, with each player getting a handful of innings to play, shifting between positions to make sure everyone gets an opportunity on the field.
"It's never been a problem, it's pretty easy to get everybody," said Brack, who coached the North in 2018. "Nobody pitches a complete game. You'll throw a guy three or four innings, then throw another guy."
The biggest variable will be the spectators. With the change in venue, it's tough to tell what kind of crowd to expect, but Brack has seen enough interest through coaches, players and sponsors to leave him optimistic for a good turnout to showcase North Marion's baseball complex.
"It's really hard to tell, (but) everybody seems to be really excited about it," Brack said. "We're hoping for a really good crowd, and we're getting great response from the series sponsorship and all kinds of help."
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