There wasn’t much doubt that the Taft High School baseball and softball teams would be playing in the postseason this year. And after last week’s dominating effort in the district playoffs, both teams are looking more than ready.
Each team hosted a league playoff game last week to earn an automatic bid into the State Playoffs the following week. For the baseball team, they faced a Clatskanie Tiger team that they had beat three times already this year. Much like the first three matchups, Taft jumped all over them right from the start.
“We came into that game focused, knowing we needed to win to guarantee us a spot in the post-season,” head coach Matt Hilgers said.
The Tigers came out of the gates in the first inning and scored seven runs. They took the lead and didn’t look back, cruising to an 11-1 victory in five innings.
“We came out in the first inning and really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Hilgers said. “This is something we will need to continue this week. It is not always easy to beat a team three times, let alone four and we were glad that we were able to win that game and continue our season.”
Eli DeMello and Fco Ramos each had a pair of hits in the contest and Bleiz Kimbrough got the start on the mound, pitching four innings, striking out three and allowing just four hits.
The victory gave Taft the 11th seed in the state playoffs this week, and they will square off with No. 6 Irrigon on May 22 at 4 p.m. Hilgers said he admittedly does not know much about the Knights, but knows they have some solid pitchers who can throw strikes and batters who can score runs.
“What I do know is ‘us’ and if we play our game we can compete with anyone in the state in my opinion,” Hilgers said. “We have to throw strikes, play defense behind our pitchers and have the right approach at the plate we will be fine.
“I am more concerned with us than the other team. We need to play our game and focus on what we are doing in order to be successful.”