Sports

OC baseball, softball on the rise

Softball team began

postseason play yesterday.

While Olympic College ended the baseball season on a nine-game skid, finishing 16-29 on the year, the team appears headed in the right direction.

Up from last year’s dismal 2-45 record, the Rangers remained in the NWAACC postseason hunt up until the final two weeks of the season, winning 14 more games than they did in 2007, the biggest win-loss turnaround in school history.

And before the nine consecutive late-season losses, the team held a 16-20 record, only four games shy of .500.

“I think we surpassed a lot of expectations,” Parker said. “But the guys on the inside expected a lot more.

“It was a good year, but at the same time, there’s a job to be done coming into next year.”

An unpredictable team all season, the Rangers rode hot — and cold — streaks all the way to the finish line. Before the nine-game slide to end the year, the Rangers had won seven consecutive games, snapping what had been a 10-game losing streak.

“That’s a sign of a young team,” Parker said. “Young teams play inconsistently.”

Parker will return in ‘09, bringing back the majority of what was a young team.

“I think we were the only team in the league to start, at times, eight freshman,” Parker said.

“Our prospects are high for next year,” he said. “Our caliber of recruits coming in next year are even higher than the ones we brought in this year. We’re excited about the prospects.”

OC’s baseball team has also inked several recruits already, including Kentwood’s Thomas Breakfield, Kentridge’s Alex French, Sehome’s Ryan Williams and Teddy Bugus, Ryan Gaylord and Ryan Hastings, all of Lynden.

Three Rangers picked up postseason accolades, including Jared Munson’s first-team NWAACC North Division selection as an outfielder. Danny Hennings was a second-teamer as a utility man, while Mike Miller received an all-academic team selection by maintaining close to 3.5 GPA.

Softball

The Lady Rangers ended the regular season 27-12 overall and 26-9 in league play, overcoming a series of coaching changes to finish second in the NWAACC North Division.

In Portland yesterday, the team opened the NWAACC tournament against Highline. Results were not available at press time.

Dealing with a coaching carousel that saw coaches arrive and leave, and the head coach battle through a trying illness, the team remained solid and won more game than not.

“The team had obstacles that they had to overcome,” assistant coach Misty Mackie, in her first season with the team, said Thursday. “They really had to coach themselves, in a way.”

Citing perseverance, work ethic and determination, Mackie said the team had what it took to overcome trying circumstances.

“They were really a self-driven team,” she said. “This is really a unique group.”

With a few hallmark victories, including a back-to-back wins against NWAACC powerhouse Bellevue, the Lady Rangers figure to make a run in postseason play.

“They decided they were going to win and they had a few killer victories,” Mackie said of the team’s mentality. “They worked hard. They didn’t quit (practice) when it was 5:30 (p.m.), they quit when they got enough practice.”

A roster full of championship-caliber talent, Mackie said OC’s losses rarely stemmed from a lack of skill.

“When they lost it was from the neck up,” she said. “It was always mental.”

Sophomore Niki Winburn, a Fairbanks, Alaska native, proved one of the team’s instrumental leaders.

“She really did lead this team all the way though,” Mackie said, adding that as a sophomore, Winburn showed the leadership of a senior.

“It really was amazing, to show that level of maturity,” Mackie said.

Regardless of yesterday’s outcome, OC will continue play through the weekend, with games continuing today.

— Aaron Managhan contributed to this report.

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