Softball race down to the wire for Lions, Indians
The scramble to make the Class 5A softball playoffs got even more scrambled this week as St. Helens and Scappoose came down the stretch, both seeking the fourth and final berth out of the Northwest Oregon Conference.
Wet weather complicated the issue, too, leaving open the possibility that the regular season might not end as scheduled on Friday but could take an extra day of play on Saturday.
Through Wednesday, several things were up in the air — most important which Columbia County team will wind up in the Oregon School Activities Association's 16-team 5A postseason.
Going into Thursday, St. Helens was 8-7 and Scappoose 6-8. But the games remaining to be played seemed to favor the Indians, on paper, at least.
St. Helens trekked to Parkrose on Wednesday but had to call it quits after two innings due to a steady rain — and with the Broncos on top 11-1.
That game will be resumed and completed "as soon as we can," St. Helens coach Miranda Little said, and assuming the result could have a bearing on the playoff picture. But the game would have to be played no later than Saturday, as that is the last day before the OSAA sets its playoff field.
The only other game left on the Lions' NWOC slate is set for 5 p.m. Friday at home against La Salle Prep. The Falcons were tied for second with Putnam, both 12-4, through Wednesday. The Lions and La Salle Prep split two games earlier this season.
St. Helens was going to the wire owning the tiebreaker over Scappoose but having not yet clinched a trip to the playoffs. Barring a big comeback against Parkrose, St. Helens' highest final league win total would be nine.
Scappoose, as of Thursday morning, still had three games to play or complete, and thus could climb all the way to nine wins. The Indians had two games remaining with Milwaukie (0-14 in league), and Scappoose was scheduled to play at Parkrose (4-11) at 5 p.m. Friday.
• The Lions dropped games on Friday, May 10 and Tuesday, May 14, falling 3-1 at Putnam and then 16-6 to the No. 3-ranked team in the state, Hillsboro.
St. Helens had nine hits in the Putnam game, including two each from Bailey Hamilton and Kaily Smith.
Against Hillsboro, the Lions had 12 hits, including a home run by Smith. But the Spartans, now 16-0 in league with only Milwaukie to play, scored seven runs in the top of the fourth to go in front 11-3. And Hillsboro finished with 21 hits against the Lions.
• Scappoose gave Hillsboro a scare on May 10 — taking the Spartans to extra innings before losing 13-3.
Hillsboro scored 10 runs in the top of the eighth on four hits, three walks, three errors and one hit batter.
Hillsboro ace McKenzie Staub struck out 14 Indians and held them to four hits, but two came from Sara Mills, who also had two RBIs and homered in the sixth to tie the score at 3-3.
Scappoose kept up the offense four days later, whacking host Wilsonville 32-10.
"We hit the ball and hit it where they weren't," Indians coach Catherine Baggett said.
Mills went 4 for 4 with a double against Wilsonville. Jenna Hatcher was 4 for 5. Taylor Johnson went 4 for 6 with a double and a triple. Ally Warren was 3 for 4 with a grand slam and two doubles.
"There weren't a lot of errors or walks, we just hit the ball," Baggett said. "It was great to see."