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Buckaroos will host league playoff game against a team to be determined on Wednesday

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - St. Paul senior Rachel Vela was the winning pitcher in all three games of the Buckaroos sweep over the Portland Christian Royals last week.The St. Paul Buckaroos are playing their best softball when it matters most as the team prepares to defend its third-place finish in the league standings and make its first state playoff berth since the program restarted four seasons ago.

The Bucks (17-9, 13-8 Special District 1) completed a three-game sweep of the Portland Christian Royals (0-22, 0-21) last week in dominant fashion, bringing their season-best streak of consecutive victories to six games as the team awaits its league playoff opponent.

St. Paul came into the week looking to build on the momentum from three straight wins over Neah-Kah-Nie (7-18, 7-14) the previous week, and a series against the winless Royals was just what was needed to end the regular season on a high note.

The Buckaroos had little trouble in the series opener on the road, starting slowly before turning on the offensive engines in the middle of the game to come away with a 20-6 win.

St. Paul opened with a pair of runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead before Jordan Caldwell started a one-out rally in the third with a double to center field that scored teammates Megan Tuck and Rachel Vela. The team built its lead to 8-0 before the Royals escaped the inning, scoring four of their own in the bottom of the frame to make it an 8-4 ball game.

But the Bucks weren't done.

St. Paul added five runs in the fourth and seven more in the fifth, building to the game's 20-6 final margin of victory as starting pitcher Rachel Vela made short work of the Royals in the bottom of the fifth to make it a quick victory.

Vela finished with four earned runs off seven hits to go along with three strikeouts on the mound. On offense, every member of the lineup scored at least once, with Caldwell leading all players with four RBIs and three runs scored on 2-of-3 hitting at the plate.

The two teams returned to St. Paul on May 9 for a double header in which the Buckaroos continued its offensive barrage to the tune of a 21-11 win, followed by a 16-2 victory to complete the series sweep.

St. Paul poured on 18 runs in the first three innings of opening game of the day, as senior Trinity Hurliman led the team with a 4-of-5 performance at the plate to go along with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Fellow senior Taysha Veeman scored a team-high four runs, reaching base in every at-bat via base on balls.

In the second game, leadoff hitter Sadie Smith went 1-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs, while Tuck matched with a dinger of her own.

St. Paul awaits the winner of the league playoff game between Gaston (13-13, 11-10) and Perrydale (11-12, 9-12). The Buckaroos swept Perrydale, but lost the season series to Gaston, two games to one.


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