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The Bucks are feeling good and scoring runs in bunches heading into postseason play

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Senior right-hander Rachel Vela leads a pitching staff that has put together strong outings in recent games.

Fueled by their productive bats and a group of senior leaders, the St. Paul softball team enters league playoffs on a six-game winning streak.

The Bucks (17-9, 13-8 Special District 1) swept Neah-Kah-Nie and Portland Christian to end the season, scoring between 11 and 27 runs during the win streak.

"The last six games were crucial for us to secure that No. 3 spot and not have to play two games in league playoffs," SPHS coach Carl Kordenat said. "We challenged the girls to be the best they can be at that point in time, and they had to have the commitment."

St. Paul will play the winner of Gaston and Perrydale on Wednesday (May 15) at Pacific University in Forest Grove. Kordenat expects that to be a good game and for the winner to come ready to try and topple the No. 3 seed Bucks.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Senior outfielder Sadie Smith is among seven players graduating out of the St. Paul program after this season.

Senior leadership has played a key role in the Bucks' success this season, as has their ability to hit the ball with astonishing consistency. The home runs and extra base hits the team has produced have been plentiful, Kordenat said, and he hopes that trend continues in a run through the postseason.

"Overall, the team has batted pretty well all year long, but this last stretch has been something else," Kordenat said. "They're dialed on whatever pitcher we face and they just hit the ball hard. There are very few cheap, little hits there.

"From top to bottom in the lineup, there aren't really any holes there. That's what we've strived for all year is not cheating ourselves at the plate. Go swing and hit the ball hard."

St. Paul won the Portland Christian series by a combined score of 64-23. Against Neah-Kah-Nie, it was 46-15. There has been no shortage of runs in recent weeks – or all season – and that has been supplemented by quality pitching as well. St. Paul even hit the 30 run mark in a 30-14 win over Nestucca back on April 19.

The Bucks were ranked No. 17 in state heading into their league playoffs. The expectation is that they will win and advance to the OSAA postseason, but they have to take care of business in Forest Grove first and not have any slip-ups.

According to Kordenat, the winning tradition established by the girls who also play volleyball and basketball is translating over to softball. He hopes the postseason success does, too, as both of those teams ended up winning state titles.

"It doesn't matter who we play," Kordenat said of the league playoff game. "As long as we play our game, the girls expect to win and that's our mentality moving forward. This is the next phase of a project we started – we wanted to finish in the upper portion in the league and now we want to get to state.

"That starts on Wednesday and we have to come ready to play so we can move on and achieve the goals we've set for this program."

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