As the spring sports season winds down, there is plenty of action in the Columbia Basin this weekend with playoff or state implications.
Pendleton, the defending 5A state softball champion is fighting to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The Bucks are 7-5 in Intermountain Conference play, trailing Ridgeview (10-2) and Hood River Valley (8-4).
Pendleton is tied with The Dalles, and will host the Eagles on Saturday in a key doubleheader. The first game is scheduled for noon.
“We have to win both games to stay alive,” Bucks coach Tim Cary said. “We have to play our ‘A’ game. The good part of this doubleheader is playing at home. We play well at home and that is to our advantage.”
The IMC has proven to be the toughest conference in the state this spring.
Ridgeview is ranked No. 1 in the polls, while Hood River is No. 2, Pendleton No. 7 and The Dalles No. 8.
“This is a very tough conference,” Cary said. “I’m confident we can do well if we can get to the playoffs. The top three make the playoffs. The sad part, is the fourth team will likely be a top 10 ranked team.”
The Bucks graduated a few key players from last year’s title team, and pitching has been the main concern all season.
“Without a doubt,” Cary said. “Pitching is something we have been working on all year to find the right people. We have been giving up way too many runs, but we have done a better job the past four games.”
The Bulldogs will play Friday in the 3A District 8 tournament in Kennewick.
Hermiston (13-7) will take on Shadle Park at 4 p.m. A win would have the Bulldogs taking on Kennewick at 5:30 p.m. A loss would drop them into a consolation game on Wednesday.
“My kids have had nine days off,” Hermiston coach Kate Greenough said. “They are excited to play again.”
Shadle Park is new to Hermiston, but Greenough said she has gotten a bit of a scouting report.
“We have some pretty competitive kids,” she said. “They are ready to show people what they can do. It should be fun.”
On the other side of the bracket, Rogers will play Southridge at Mt. Spokane High School, with the winner playing the host Wildcats.
The Special District 5 title is on the line Friday afternoon.
The host Knights (17-4, 9-1 SD5) need a sweep of Vale (11-8, 8-2) to win the title outright.
Joseph is sandwiched between the teams at 8-2 in league play. The Vikings and Outlaws split their league doubleheader in April.
If Irrigon and Vale should split and the Outlaws sweep Nyssa, the Knights and Outlaws would share the title. Seeding for the state playoffs would be decided on tiebreakers and state rankings.
“We have to sweep,” Irrigon coach Randy Henrichs said. “If we split, I don’t know how it works. It’s easier to win both.”
Henrichs said the Knights will go with senior Zack Henrichs on the mound for the first game. Zack Henrichs has thrown a perfect game and one no-hitter this season.
“Our pitchers are starting to come on really good right now,” Coach Henrichs said.
The Knights also are the highest scoring 3A team in the state, pushing 269 runs across the plate in 21 games. They also rank sixth in runs allowed with just 77.
Irrigon last won a district title in 2016 at the 2A level. The Knights have never won a state championship.
MCC District Championships
The top 3A and 4A track athletes will be at Kennison Field on Friday and Saturday.
Field events begin at 4:15 p.m. Friday, with track events starting at 5 p.m.
Saturday, field events begin at 10:45 a.m., with track events starting at 11:30 a.m.
The top eight in each 3A event move on to the District 8 meet, while in the 4A, the top seven in the MCC and GSL advance, with the next two best marks, regardless of conference, round out the field.
The 3A and 4A District 8 Championships are May 17-18 at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland.