The remaining games of the OSAA 4A Baseball/Softball State Championships may be a lot about the Skyline Conference. For Basin residents, though, it is about their teams.
Of the eight remaining teams in both sports’ semifinals to be played Tuesday, five are from the Skyline Conference. There are three out of Klamath Falls, including both Henley High School teams. Thanks to the way the Oregon School Activities Association determines home field advantage, all three teams are playing at home despite two of them being the worse seed. In the semifinals round, the OSAA awards home field to the team that has had it the fewest number of times throughout the playoffs.
Game times are such that fans should be able to get a piece of each game if wanted, but in case you’re locked into one specific team, 960 the Sports Legend will be doing the Basin diamond sports postseason tour.
OSAA 4A Baseball State Championships – Semifinals
No. 5 Hidden Valley (16-6) at No. 7 Henley (14-13) – 5 p.m.
Mimicking its Skyline partner’s performance a season ago, the Henley Hornets baseball team has picked up heat toward the end of the regular season and hope to parlay it all the way to the state championship game.
In 2011, North Valley, which is also alive this season on the other side of the bracket, used a six-game winning streak to make it to the title match. All of that after barely making the postseason field, finishing fourth in the conference.
That is what Henley is one game shy of replicating, going against fellow Skyline Conference team Hidden Valley. The Hidden Valley Mustangs were third in the conference, closer to second than fourth. The separation was aided by taking two of the three meetings with Henley during the league-opening doubleheader in April.
Henley answered back in the single game on May 1, lacing 11 runs in an 11-3 win. Afterward, the Hornets didn’t win a regular season game without scoring 10 or more runs and have even posted 12 in a 12-4 defeat of the fourth-ranked team in the state, Philomath.
Last week, Jon Guzman went pitch-for-pitch with Klamath Union’s Skyline standout Kody Kuhlman, getting the extra run that Kuhlman did not, in a 2-1 eliminating defeat of the conference champion KU.
Audio: Henley head coach Tim Cleland on Guzman and his team’s postseason mentality
With a victory, Henley will be back in the state championship game for the 7th time in school history and first since 2005. It would be the Hornets’ first 4A title appearance. In the previous six trips, Henley has never lost.
No. 1 Ontario (19-7) vs No. 3 North Valley (21-5) – 3:45 p.m. (Reinhart All Sports Park – Grants Pass)
The North Valley Knights can make it back-to-back championship game appearances with a victory over the state’s top 4A school, Ontario.
The advantage? North Valley didn’t have to make the 450-mile drive to play the game, getting to host via the aforementioned rule.
North Valley hasn’t lost to a non-4A conference opponent all season and still scored seven in its 11-7 defeat against 5A Ashland. The Knights have claimed four straight wins including a 7-3 victory last Saturday against fifth-ranked Sisters. The loss snapped Sisters’ 21-game winning streak.
The Knights will have to do something similar to Ontario, which has won 16 of its last 17 games. Since the end of the regular season, Ontario has allowed only six runs while scoring 35 of its own.
OSAA 4A Softball State Championships – Semifinals
No. 2 Cascade (23-4) at No. 1 Henley (25-3) – 3 p.m.
The Henley Hornets’ bats were blazing last Wednesday when the state’s top-ranked team beat La Salle 28-2. The run total put up by Henley is yet to be matched in two games by any other team.
Henley had a more modest 3-2 win against Baker-Powder Valley at home on Friday, but still controlled the game from the beginning. The victory was Henley’s 20th in a row.
Henley is fortunate for getting the semifinal game at home too. In the four baseball and softball semifinals still to be played, Henley is the only better-seeded team to get a home game. The Hornets and their opponent Tuesday, Cascade, have each played two home games and when that happens, the OSAA awards the home field to the team with the better seed.
Cascade has been strong defensively though, following its 4-0 win over Sweet Home in the opening round with a 5-0 defeat of Madras on Friday. Madras came in with the 7th most runs scored by a team all season at the 4A level.
Cascade has won 13 of its last 14 games. Henley is trying to make it back-to-back title appearances for the first time ever and avenge its 5-1 loss to Cascade in last year’s championship. With a title, softball will be the school’s third girls state championship winner this year (basketball and swimming).
No. 3 Banks (23-4) at No. 5 Mazama (18-7) – 4 p.m.
The Mazama Vikings softball team is following a similar path to that of Henley baseball. The Vikings lost four in a row to end the regular season, but have been out pitching teams since, allowing just three runs in three games.
Tuesday’s home game is nice for Mazama, which hasn’t lost at home to any team other than Henley since Mar. 26 (5-3 to 5A Dallas-Kings Valley). Furthermore, Mazama has outscored its conference opponents (including Henley) on the home diamond 74-18.
Mazama hasn’t been in the state title game since 2006 when it lost to Elmira 8-2.
Elmira is the team Banks beat 12-2 to advance to this year’s semifinals round. The double-digit output is only the second by any team in the OSAA postseason. Banks has been blowing away opponents in that fashion for the last 13 games and hasn’t lost. In fact, Banks hasn’t played all seven innings in all but five of those contests.