Rainy finish makes for baseball turmoil

April 29, 2011 

As the week has progressed with rainfall leading to more postponed games - a common theme this spring - the frustration level of Narrows League baseball coaches has risen, too.

Back-and-forth questions all week about whether to cancel the league tournament and revert to regular-season standings or have the tournament as scheduled were answered Thursday.

The tournament is a go.

The 4A and 3A league baseball tournaments were scheduled to begin Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma, but with rain during the league’s final week of the regular season, there are now more makeup league games to be played, pushing back the start of the three-day tournament to Tuesday (pending any tiebreakers being played Monday).

Olympia coach Todd McDougall and Capital coach Eric Stark and their squads each have a pair of regular-season league games to play, and the games have playoff implications. Alas, neither team has played a game yet this week because of the weather. All Narrows League games Monday and Wednesday were washed out, and only Bellarmine Prep-Shelton and Wilson-Lincoln were contested Tuesday and Central Kitsap-South Kitsap on Thursday.

“It’s all craziness right now,” Stark said. “Everyone is trying to get games in this weekend.”

Olympia has had its much-anticipated regular-season series with Gig Harbor pushed back four straight days, but will try to get the first of two games in at 4 p.m. today at Crandall Field, and the second at noon Saturday in Gig Harbor. The series has 4A title implications for both teams; Gig Harbor holds a one-game lead over Olympia in the loss column, but a sweep by the Bears would give them the league title and a No. 1 seed.

“As a new league format, we’re learning what we should and shouldn’t do,” McDougall said. “… We’re all in the same boat.”

Capital is second place in the 3A division behind Timberline, which has won 12 straight games and clinched the league title after last week’s 5-0 win over Wilson. The Cougars have makeup games today and Saturday against Foss, and hold all the power in their hands – a sweep of the Falcons secures a No. 2 seed, a split means a tiebreaker game will be played, and two losses mean the Cougars’ season is done.

Timberline and Yelm will play a doubleheader Saturday to close out the regular season.

CHENEY CALLS TEAMS

Before Capital plays its final regular-season baseball game against Foss on Saturday, the Cougars face North Thurston in a nonleague game at 1 p.m. at refurbished Cheney Stadium, home of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. This is the third straight year Capital has played a regular-season game at Cheney – each against a new opponent (Franklin Pierce in 2009, Olympia in ’10 and now Foss).

Capital and North Thurston agreed to sell 350 tickets at $15 each to play at the stadium. Admission to the Capital-North Thurston game includes admission to the Rainiers game May 19, plus a hot dog and soft drink.

North Thurston coach Lance Baker said he hopes to make it an annual event between the Rams and Cougars at Cheney.

“It will be fun,” Baker said. “It will bring people out to the game, let the kids play and experience a field like that.”

Cheney Stadium received a $30 million renovation in the offseason, making it one of the top stadiums in the Pacific Coast League.

The game will also be a tribute to Will Johnston, a North Thurston senior baseball player who was killed in a car accident in October. In honor of Johnston, the Rams will wear T-shirts with “Will” on the front and “Johnston” on the back, with the No. 23.

At 4-9 in the 2A Evergreen Conference, North Thurston is in a tight race with Aberdeen, Black Hills and Tumwater for the final three playoff spots in the 2A District IV tournament, which begins May 11.

SHELTON INVITE

The 51st annual Shelton Invitational begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Highclimber Stadium. Fifty-five teams will be on hand, including many from South Sound. The Black Hills boys and Olympia girls teams finished third and fourth, respectively, last year.

One of the races to watch will be the boys 400. Tumwater sophomore Andrew Brown has the best time of those entered after finishing in 49.54 seconds last weekend at the Activators Invitational in Chehalis. His time tied the school record set 38 years ago by Don Hartman.

Other athletes to watch include Heritage’s Sean Keller, who has the state’s top mark in the boys javelin (232 feet, 1 inch); Blaine’s Cherish Morrison, who won 2A state titles in the girls 100, 200 and 400 last year at Star Track; Prairie’s Jon Lawson, who is one of top 3A shot putters and discus throwers; and Curtis’ Rahmel Dockery, the state’s leader in the boys long jump (24-5).

WRESTLING UPDATE

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee approved new high school weight classes for the 2011-12 season. The 14 weight classes approved by the committee are 106 pounds, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. The 145-, 152-, 160-, and 285-pound classes remain unchanged.

The last such shift came in 1988 when the lowest weight class was increased from 98 pounds to 103. Other changes came in 2002 when the number of classes went from 13 to 14, and in 2006 when the 275-pound class was increased to 285.

TOUGH-LUCK BEARS

At 1-12, Olympia’s boys soccer team has dealt with multiple injuries this season, but looks to earn its first 4A Narrows League win at 7 tonight against Shelton at Ingersoll Stadium.

The Bears have come close to earning their first league victory in their past two games – both 2-1 defeats, to South Kitsap and Stadium. Freshman midfielder Jamison Corbin leads the team in goals and assists.

THIS AND THAT

Timberline’s Kevin Russell and Charles MacNeil, Tumwater’s Kyle Warner and Capital’s Chase Lamoreaux have committed to play football at Pacific Lutheran University. The four join Olympia’s Joel Anthony, who committed to the Lutes earlier this month. Tumwater’s Christian Bush will play at the University of Puget Sound. … North Thurston’s Landon Rushton will participate in the WIBCA/WIAA Basketball Showcase on Saturday and Sunday at Bellevue College. Rushton was the co-MVP of the 2A Evergreen Conference, leading the EvCo in scoring at 21.3 points per game. … Chehalis is one of 10 football teams that will take part in the annual Emerald City Kickoff Classic, Sept. 3 at Qwest Field. The Bearcats will face North Mason at 3 p.m., one of five games scheduled at the event.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5573 mwochnick@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/prepsportsblog

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