Madras and Culver enter final weeks of baseball, softball seasons
With just a week left on the schedules for the diamond sports around the state, three of the four teams in Jefferson County are in position to make the playoffs.
Both the baseball and softball teams from Madras High School picked up massive wins on the road against Gladstone on Monday, May 9, to help solidify their spots going into the homestretch.
Here is a deeper look at how each of the teams in Madras and Culver are doing as the end of the regular season comes around the bend.
Madras Softball (11-8, 7-3)
The White Buffalos are still holding on to second place in the Tri-Valley after beating the Gladiators 10-8 on Monday evening. The game was a back-and-forth affair, but sophomore Ashley Camas put the Buffs ahead for good with a three-RBI home run in the seventh inning as Madras turned a two-run deficit into a two-run win.
Rylan Davis and Hope King each had three hits and one RBI, while Marilyn Tom had her own three-RBI extra-base hit when she tripled. Junior shortstop Natalie Lockey added an RBI to a pair of remarkable defensive plays in the field. In the circle, Tom started the game and gave up four runs over two innings, while King gave up four and struck out seven in five innings of relief.
"We still need to clean up some errors," wrote head coach Shawna McConnell after Monday's win, "but overall this is a huge win for us."
As of Tuesday morning, the Buffs held a slight lead in the standings over Corbett, which has the same number of losses but two fewer wins. Gladstone, meanwhile, now slips into a clear fourth place with a 5-6 record in league play, while Estacada is on top at 10-2 in Tri-Valley play.
Madras wraps up with games on the road at Molalla (May 11) and then at home against Estacada (May 12) before a crucial doubleheader on Friday, May 13, against Corbett. There is also a game against fifth-place North Marion that still needs to be rescheduled following a rainout on May 5.
Madras Baseball (12-8, 7-5)
The Madras baseball team also grabbed a big win over Gladstone on Monday behind strong performances on the mound from Dru Boyle, Carson King and Ayden Holcomb. The Buffs also got just enough offense, with Noah Vibbert and Jackson Hertel each recording two of the team's eight hits. While Boyle, Ethan Graeme and Conner Flu all had RBIs, it was Vibbert's steal of home that proved to be the game-winning run for Madras on Monday evening.
King's appearance in relief was the first time that the senior had hit the field this year as he has dealt with injury. He pitched a scoreless sixth inning, striking out one, walking one and giving up one hit.
Monday's win also marked Boyle's first start since April 5, and the junior was solid in five innings of work. Boyle struck out five, gave up five hits and walked three, and he was on the hook for all three Gladstone runs while earning the win.
With the win, the White Buffalos pulled within a game of the Gladiators in the Tri-Valley standings. Gladstone sits in second place at 8-4, and Madras now owns the season series because the teams split their first two games. North Marion is 12-0 in league play and the No. 3 team in Class 4A, so the real battle is going to be for the second and third automatic playoff spots.
The other team to watch is Estacada, which fell to 5-7 in the Tri-Valley after falling to North Marion on Monday but could still take third place.
The Buffs faced those Huskies on Tuesday, May 10 and then close with a home game against Molalla today, May 11, before traveling to Estacada for their regular-season finale on Thursday, May 12.
Culver Baseball (15-5, 11-3)
The Bulldogs are in a good position to grab the third spot in the playoffs out of 2A/1A Special District 2.
Following a sweep of winless Sheridan last week, Culver holds a 3.5-game lead over Santiam for third place, with just a week left to play. Senior pitcher Gabe Wilson hurled a no-hitter in the team's 12-0 win over the last-place Spartans on Tuesday, May 3, and then the Bulldogs beat Sheridan 15-1 in both ends of a doubleheader on Thursday, May 5. In the second game, Logan Macy and Braeden Chapman combined to no-hit the Spartans for the second time in three days.
Culver starts its final series of the regular season against Kennedy — the No. 1 team in 2A/1A baseball — on Tuesday, May 10. The Bulldogs also have games against the Spartans Wednesday, May 11, and Thursday, May 12. Were the Bulldogs to sweep the Trojans, they could potentially still win the league; however, second-place Western Christian would also need to lose another game.
As of Tuesday morning, Kennedy's 13-1 league record was best in Special District 2, while Western Christian sits just behind the Trojans — and only a half-game ahead of Culver — with a 12-3 mark. This trio of teams should be the ones to grab the league's automatic bids to the state playoffs.
Culver Softball (7-7, 5-6)
Following four straight losses in late April, the Bulldogs started to right the ship by winning two of its past three contests. That said, Culver will need some serious help in order to grab the league's third automatic spot in the playoffs.
As of Tuesday, Kennedy sat in first place at 10-0, while Jefferson and Santiam were tied for second place with 7-2 league records. The Bulldogs are in fourth place at 5-6, but they could qualify as an at-large by winning enough to buoy their computer rankings.
Culver finishes with games against Jefferson on May 10 and May 14, as well as hosting Central Linn on May 12 and then traveling for a doubleheader with Western Christian on May 16.
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