The strength of the Scappoose baseball team's nonleague schedule this year would
have snapped the backbone of most ball clubs.
Of the eight nonleague opponents, seven made their respective playoff fields, be it Class 4A, 5A or 6A.
As a result, Scappoose started the season 1-7 and was 10-runned in five straight games. After winning their season opener, the Indians lost their next 12 games before snapping the skid with a cathartic 5-4 win over La Salle Prep on April 18.
Looking back, however, the tough start was a turning point on a season that could have gone sideways. Scappoose never lost confidence.
In league play, the Indians were competitive in all but two Northwest Oregon Conference contests. Scappoose ended the season 6-20 overall and 5-13 in league, six games out of league's fourth and final playoff spot.
But even when the sport was harsh, the Indians never gave up the fight.
"I was really impressed with our group this season," said Cameron Webb, Scappoose's fist-year coach. "We went through some tough times. For those kids to stay bought in and keep working hard the entire time says a lot about the group we had.
"The difficult times built character and showed a lot of toughness. I hope they can remember what they went through and bring that to other aspects of their life and know they can push through."
Scappoose finished the regular season on a very competitive note, dropping a pair of hard-fought games against Wilsonville, which tied La Salle Prep at 15-3 for the best record in the NWOC.
The Indians lost the series opener with Wilsonville 4-3 and the finale 8-5 on May 17 to a Wildcats team Webb said was as good as any Scappoose played all season. Wilsonville lost 4-3 in the first round of the 5A playoffs — but that was at Pendleton, the team that went on to reach the state finals before falling to Central.
The Indians, over the course of two months this spring, were able to make the kind of strides Webb hopes will lead to bigger things in the long term.
Scappoose had more hits (11) than Wilsonville (six) in the season finale. Breeler Mann, Ben Anicker, Quincy Cleveland, and Logan Travis all collected multiple hits in that game. Travis started on the mound and surrendered nine runs on six hits over six innings, striking out seven.
"Even though we didn't get any wins, it's good to see us get to that level," Webb said of his club's finish. "Overall, it was encouraging to see how far we came. It was positive in a lot of ways."
Most of Scappoose's 15 varsity players were seniors who suited up for the last time: Mann, Cleveland, Terrence Lewis, Liam McMullen, Jaden Wardwell, Gavin Larson, Connor McNabb, Mike Reed, Riley Boogman, Jordan Buchanan and Brendyn Nollette.
Buchanan has been voted to the 5A all-state honorable mention list as an infielder. He led the Indians in hits this spring with 26 and ranked second in batting average (.347).
Cleveland was second on the squad with 22 hits and third in average (.297).
Lewis had 21 hits. He and Mann were tops of the team in doubles with seven apiece.
Mann pitched the most innings (40.2), and McMullen (26.1) was third in that category.
Mann also led the way in strikeouts, with 51. And he ranked first in ERA (1.89).
McMullen was fourth in strikeouts (25) while on the mound.
Key returning players for 2020 are expected to include four seniors-to-be: Travis, pitcher/outfielder; Anicker, infielder, pitcher; Jake Bernhard, outfielder/pitcher, and Noah Packineau, infielder.
Also vital to the returning core are Tyler Souvenir, who will be a junior catcher and pitcher, and Luke McNabb, who will be a sophomore and can play outfielder, infield and pitcher.
Travis was honorable mention all-state this year for 5A in the outfield. He was the Indians' top hitter for average (.348) this spring and led the club in home runs (three). He also ranked third in innings pitched (26), despite missing part of the season with injuries. And he was second in strikeouts (34).
Anicker was second in innings pitched this spring, with 34, and third in strikeouts (32).
The previous two years, Scappoose didn't participate in summer Oregon Independent Baseball Association action, but that has changed under Webb's direction. He and his staff are producing a varsity OIBA squad as well as a Futures team that will feature all of the Indians' incoming freshmen. That will give the young players a look into how Webb wants them to play and how the program will function once they reach the high school level next spring.
Each summer Scappoose OIBA team will play 25 games, and the preparation began with a training camp at Neah-Kah-Nie the week after the end of school. The OIBA campaign began on June 4 with a 13-9 loss to Century. The Indians then fell 3-0 on June 7 at Cleveland, whose standout pitcher, Logan Geiszler, held them to three hits and struck out 12. Five Indian hurlers held the Warriors to four hits, though.
The OIBA American Scappoose team is in a division with Newberg, Putnam, Reynolds, Gresham and Southridge.
Webb hopes the additional summer experience — given reliable weather — will help polish Scappoose's team defense and give the Indians a head start going into 2020.
Essentially, in June and July, Webb gets another full season to teach, evaluate and further implement his positive, hardworking culture.
"The high school season is so short, you're only starting to get into a groove by the time it wraps up," Webb said. "The spring season is only half of the high school baseball experience, with the other half being summer ball.
"Even though it doesn't count toward your league standings or your playoffs, it's basically developing next year's team, so it's a super-crucial time for those guys."
Webb said coaches at Scappoose will coordinate the summer programs and try to work cohesively when dividing their multisport athletes' time.
"It helps our kids out a lot to play multiple sports," Webb said. "That's one thing I like about Scappoose and the small community compared to the 6A schools. So many kids play all of the sports, and I think that helps them mature as a competitor."
Steve Brandon contributed to this report
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