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- Written by Randy Adams
- Last Updated on June 27, 2012
- Published on April 6, 2007
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fIn the 6A South West Conference, the power has changed from the South side in basketball to the North side in baseball- in the city of Medford. While the Panthers enjoyed the state 6A hoops title, the Black Tornado are ranked at the top of the heap statewide in baseball, and rightfully so. Coach Brett Wolfe has many returning starters, and a freshman southpaw named Matt Maurer that has college scouts already talking about him. The junior legion program from North Medford won the state title last year and finished second in the Northwest regionals in summer ball. The Tornado has yet to lose this season.
Grants Pass is having more success this year on the softball diamond. The Lady Cavers, who sport one of the few all-field turf facilities in the state, are well coached, and loaded. Look for North Medford to give them a run, as well as Sheldon. Also in softball, the 5A Crater Comets have made the playoffs every year since 2002, and, of course, that was before the re-classification. Crater’s just a few hundred students shy of the 6A mark, but the Comets have already penned losses on 6A Top 10 teams such as Sprague of Salem and Southridge of Beaverton. Coach Chris Arnold has a great combination of returning letter winners and new talent at the varsity level, and at 10-2, the Comets are the clear cut league favorite. Eagle Point has the best team they’ve had in years, and Mazama and Ashland are also capable of winning on any given day. Klamath Union is not fielding a softball team this year, so three of the four teams in the SSC will earn state playoff spots. Every league game counts in SSC softball- there are only 12 total league games. A couple of upsets could leave a very good team on the outside looking in.
Crater’s tough preseason schedule on the baseball diamond- the 4 game Crater Classic, followed by a trip to Fresno for a tournament there, has coaches looking at the Comets as be the team to beat. Ashland has some good pitching, and Eagle Point’s “team philosophy” baseball will keep them in the hunt. Mazama played up for several games in a Las Vegas tournament and beat perennial 4A powerhouse Henley 11-5 in pre-season ball. The Vikings 4-5 overall record is deceiving; 3 of their wins have come against 6A opponents. Mazama has several returning seniors and could very easily give the Comets a run for the money in that league.
Klamath Union is in a rebuilding year, but still features some good pitching. The Pels, however, don’t look to contend for a state playoff berth this season.
In the Skyline Conference, much of the talk was about Henley, but Phoenix has had the much more impressive start. Henley was blanked by 4A North Bend during spring break 6-0 (in Klamath Falls no less), and made 7 errors against Mazama in the intracity game between the two. The Hornets pitching staff is not up to its’ potential yet, though, and that could be due to the late conclusion of the basketball season. Starting pitchers Kody Fritz and James Nygren, both seniors, played for the Hornets’ into the second week of March to earn 6th place in Corvallis in 4A hoops. The Hornets have still enjoyed a preseason record of 8-2, though they have not recorded a shutout this season. That will most likely change quickly as the pitching continues to improve.
North Valley and Henley look to be strong suit in Skyline softball.
One of the big questions down south is "Can Cascade Christian pull the hat trick and win the football, basketball, and baseball state titles in one season?" The Challengers are loaded on the baseball diamond, and beat cross-town rival St. Mary’s this week to begin league play, winning 15-2 in 5 innings. This season is the “last hurrah” for CC….they move up to 3A next year, where you won’t find a team from southern Oregon this year unless you look to the Oregon coast (Gold Beach) or the Umpqua Valley (Glide). They’re loaded to at least make a run in the playoffs come May in baseball.
Chiloquin’s softballers may have a slight edge in the area 4 softball race. Mark Nigh’s longevity as head coach there and senior laden talent coming back have the rest of the league putting a target on the Queens’ back. Because the league seasons are only a month and a half long, fans will have plenty of opportunities to see it all unfold. And you can read all about it here, on Oregon Prep Sports-dot-net.