Softball and baseball teams continue postseason march

Wa-Hi softball coach Kate Keyes leads the Blue Devils against Lewis & Clark in the regional touranment Saturday afternoon.

Wa-Hi softball coach Kate Keyes leads the Blue Devils against Lewis & Clark in the regional touranment Saturday afternoon. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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WALLA WALLA — Local softball and baseball teams continue postseason play this weekend.

The Walla Walla High School softball team, which lost the district championship to Richland last weekend, travels to face Lewis & Clark in a loser-out regional contest in Spokane at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The Blue Devils, who ended their season at the regional tournament last year, are looking at this weekend as their window back into the state tournament, Wa-Hi coach Kate Keyes said.

“Any kid that’s been to the state tournament knows what the competition is like and what the atmosphere is like,” Keyes said. “All the girls on the team share that desire.”

Wa-Hi, which finished second in the state tourney in 2012 after winning the title in 2011, finished the regular season with a 12-5 overall record and an 8-4 mark in the Mid Columbia Conference.

And after winning five of its last six games, Keyes likes how her team is playing.

“I think we’re playing some good softball,” she said. “In the last four or five games, they’ve started to hit the ball and move runners around more effectively.

“Defensively, we’ve cleaned it up in the second half of the season,” Keyes added. “We just hope to keep getting better every day.”

With a win, the Blue Devils would advance to play the loser of the Richland-Central Valley game, which also starts at 3 p.m.

The DeSales softball team, which secured the No. 1 seed in the regional tournament with a 5-1 win against Asotin last Saturday, faces Mary Walker at Columbia Field in Richland at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

With only five state berths on the line between the eight-team field, the Irish only have to win one game to guarantee a spot at state. A win would also allow them a chance at the regional crown, which DeSales’ coach Russell Vera said is one of the team’s goals.

“It’s very important to get that first win,” Vera said. “One to get us the automatic berth to state, but our goal is to win the regional tournament. That first game is very important because no team wants to have to win three straight to get a berth.”

Without a wealth of information on their opponent, Vera said the Irish must focus on the tournament one game at a time.

“In practice we’re working on hitting and defense,” he said. “This is only the second (time) we’ve had regionals with District 7. We’re going out there having a positive attitude and taking it one game at a time.”

The DeSales baseball team will also be in action this weekend, as the Irish face Colfax at Avista Stadium in Spokane at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The winner moves on to face the winner of the Northwest Christian-Kittitas game.

The Touchet softball team faces Southeast 1B foe Colton on Saturday to decide the district’s No. 1 seed to the state tournament.

A loss would send the Indians into a game against the Rosalia-Liberty Christian winner to determine the district’s No. 2 seed to state.

The McLoughlin High School softball team, which is currently ranked the No. 3 4A team in Oregon, hosts a first-round playoff game Wednesday. The Pioneers opponent, however, is yet to be determind.

Crook County and Douglas square off in a play-in game at 3 p.m. today to determine seeding to the state playoffs. If Crook County wins, Mac-Hi hosts the Cowboys. If Douglas prevails, the Pioneers would face Marshfield, who beat La Salle Prep, 2-1, on Thursday.

Regardless of which team the Pioneers see in round one, Mac-Hi coach Nicole Christian will have her team prepared.

“I try to get as much info on the teams we are playing in our bracket,” Christian said. “None of those three teams I’ve seen personally play. I call around and get as much info on pitchers and hitters on the team.

“At this stage, that’s all we can really change and adjust,” Christian added. “We are always working on our fundamentals throughout the day. No different pressure. I practiced this way the whole season, so it’s nothing different for them. I don’t like changing because it’s state, I just try to remind them it’s another game.”

Mac-Hi, by virtue of finishing the regular season 19-3 overall and 12-0 in the Greater Oregon League, host both the first and second round of the playoffs. The Pioneers lost to Banks, 1-0, in the state championship last year.

But with only three players on the roster that got extended run in last year’s state tourney, Christian said the Pioneers must overcome their nerves.

“I do have a ton of new faces,” Christian said. “I know there’s going to be these jitters from the sophomores and freshman that have never been in this situation at this level. We just take it one game at a time, we don’t overlook anything.”

The Weston-McEwen softball team, which finished the season 22-1 overall and 14-1 in Special District 5, moves into the district tournament as the No. 1 seed this weekend. The TigerScots are guaranteed a spot in the championship game on Saturday and will face the winner of the Pilot Rock-Union game.

The TigerScot baseball team faces Dufur for the district title at Bob White Field in Pendleton at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Weston-McEwen swept Dufur, 5-2 and 12-3, in its last two games of the regular season.

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