Good Thursday morning. We’ll wrap up golf and baseball for you later, but we start this morning by offering you a preview of what will be a big weekend for Cedarcrest High School’s baseball and softball teams, both of whom are likely headed over to Yakima later today to get ready for their state tournament action tomorrow at the WIAA 2A high school baseball and softball tournaments. We’ll preview the matchups here now, and later, give you some travel information to help you plan your weekend should you want to make the trip over the Cascades to Yakima.
We’ll start with a look at the baseball semifinal matchup, tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at Yakima County Stadium against Fife.
Red Wolves could be in for a challenge against Trojans
Cedarcrest made the semis with a win in their regional final game this past Sunday over Liberty, but Fife could provide an even bigger test. And that is due to who will likely get the call to the hill to start the game on the mound for the 21-3 Trojans.
Senior Tanner Knapp, who has been their ace pitcher all season, and frankly, based on the numbers we’ve seen, best all-around player this spring, is expected to get that call and if you want to talk about dominant, look no further than Knapp. He’s started all nine games he’s pitched this spring, and according to MaxPreps, he’s logged a 7-0 record with a, get this, 0.17 earned run average. You read that right. 0.17. Meaning that opportunities to make things happen for Cedarcrest could be limited at best, and that’s even with the strong senior-led offensive group the Red Wolves have. It doesn’t help that Knapp has 73 strikeouts in 41 innings this season, almost two strikeouts an inning on average, so Knapp, if he’s the one the Red Wolves get to face, will be the best they’ve faced all season.
He’s also been a solid hitter this spring, hitting over .300 with a couple of homers along with around two dozen RBI’s. Knapp will be one to watch for sure tomorrow in that game.
So, who will CHS have at their disposal against Knapp? There’s a few names to pay attention to, all seniors. Cody Banks, Ben Lemery, Blaine Wagner, Ryan Tracy and Jake Jewell all are hitting around .300 or better this spring for the Red Wolves, who are 16-9 this spring. Jewell, who pitched masterfully in the regional final win last weekend in Tacoma, has signed to play at the community college level next spring, and while we haven’t heard about any of the other seniors, we’d expect most, if not all, of them, will be playing at the college level in some form in 2017.
A couple of other players to watch from Fife are pitcher Cole Connolly, who, if Knapp doesn’t pitch tomorrow, will likely be the one on the mound. He, too, is pretty dominant, with a 6-0 record and eye popping ERA of around ½ run (0.50) a game. Connolly pitched the Trojans’ regional final win in Bellingham last Saturday over Northwest District champion Lynden, who beat the Red Wolves for that district crown, and allowed just one run on six hits in six strong innings of work. Connolly, a senior, is only hitting around .250, but it’s his work on the mound that will be the focus. Chase Anderson is also hitting around .250, but doubled and drove in both of Fife’s runs in their 2-1 regional final win over the Lions last weekend. In a low-scoring game, which this likely will be as CHS will probably send sophomore Aaron Davenport to the mound, and he, as you know, is a pretty tough pitcher as well, a junior like Anderson if he is able to get one in the clutch, could make the difference.
Another factor to pay attention to could be weather and field conditions at the stadium. The weather for this weekend should be all right minus one or two stray rain showers, but the field conditions could be a concern. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, the University of Washington and Washington State University were scheduled to play a non-conference baseball game at YCS, but they canceled the game on account of what the UW described in its report as “unsafe field conditions.” We’d expect the grounds folks over there are working hard to get the field in playable condition in advance of tomorrow’s semifinals, but in any event, the conditions of the field could be something to keep an eye on as, again, if you have a low-scoring ballgame, which we would expect, one bad bounce could affect the outcome.
The winner of the semifinal game will face the winner of a Yakima Valley rivalry showdown between Ellensburg and Selah that will take place prior to the 1:00 first pitch for CHS and Fife. Selah is 23-1 this spring while Ellensburg is 16-5, both very solid marks in the Central Washington Athletic Conference.
Now to the softball.
Red Wolves a title contender at 2A tournament, but draw a challenging foe to open things
CHS’s softball ladies start their tournament tomorrow at 10am over at Carlon Park in Selah against, guess who, the local squad from Selah High School. So a virtual road game for these Red Wolves, but guess what? Their district final was a virtual road game, too, last week, up at Janicki Fields in Sedro-Woolley against Sedro-Woolley’s Cubs, but CHS got it done, winning the Northwest title 13-7.
We couldn’t find a lot of info on the Vikings from Selah, but what we did get suggests this team bears a very striking resemblance to the work product of S-W. The Vikings are 16-7 this season, 15-3 in CWAC play, and they’ve played 12 games this spring (11-1 record) in which they’ve scored 10 or more runs. Similar numbers to what we saw, if you remember us mentioning it in the district final preview, with Sedro-Woolley. With CHS, though, as the home team for this first game, the Red Wolves have the opportunity to set the table, and can do that with the excellent pitching they’ve seen this season from junior Morgan Brown, sophomore Cassidy Derieg and freshman Michaela Carter. Seniors Hailey Lacher and Kayla Blakslee will lead the offense, and sophomore Elaine Townley should also provide some offensive support. This team is deep and they showed that in the district tournament in all three of their games, scoring 38 runs in that Northwest three-game run.
That depth was shown very much so in the district title win last Friday, as all of the players in their lineup had hits, led by three hits – including two doubles – from Brown, and three-hit games as well from Blakslee and Rachel Kent. Another freshman, Hailey Hoke, also contributed, with a hit and two runs scored, so up and down this lineup, it will be a scary sight for the Vikings, to be sure.
If they can survive the virtual road game opener, they’ll move on to face either White River from Buckley or R.A. Long from Longview in the quarters. Sedro-Woolley, defending champ W.F. West from Chehalis, and Ellensburg could be contenders for the state title out of the opposite side of the 16-team bracket.
Another team we will be paying attention to over at Carlon tomorrow is the combined Forest Ridge/Bear Creek team. The dual private school squad made up of girls from Forest Ridge School in Bellevue and Bear Creek School in Redmond features pitcher Colleen Campbell, from Snoqualmie. FR made it out of the West Central District tournament as a Kingco representative, even though the team played as an independent team this spring. The two schools are both 1A entities, but the team played up at the 2A level this season. FR/BC meets W.F. West in their first game tomorrow, and could face S-W in their second game should they get a win over the Bearcats.
We hope you enjoy the action tomorrow over on the east side of the Cascades. Coming up, travel info to help you plan your weekend.