News-Register file photo##
Members of the Dayton boys and girls basketball programs pose with their state championship trophies in the Dayton High School gymnasium in March.
News-Register file photo## Members of the Dayton boys and girls basketball programs pose with their state championship trophies in the Dayton High School gymnasium in March.
News-Register file photo##
Sheridan senior Justin Acuff (above) won the OSAA Class 3A 138-pound state championship to give him three individual state wrestling titles in his four years with the Spartans.
News-Register file photo## Sheridan senior Justin Acuff (above) won the OSAA Class 3A 138-pound state championship to give him three individual state wrestling titles in his four years with the Spartans.
News-Register file photo##
Scott Brosius resigned as head coach of the Linfield baseball program in May and later joined the Seattle Mariners organization, where he will be the hitting coach for the Class AAA Tacoma (Washington) Rainiers.
News-Register file photo## Scott Brosius resigned as head coach of the Linfield baseball program in May and later joined the Seattle Mariners organization, where he will be the hitting coach for the Class AAA Tacoma (Washington) Rainiers.
News-Register file photo##
Amity’s Lindsay McShane won 3A state championships in the girls’ discus throw and girls’ shot put; she could become the third Oregon girl to win three consecutive individual state titles in the shot put and discus throw this spring.
News-Register file photo## Amity’s Lindsay McShane won 3A state championships in the girls’ discus throw and girls’ shot put; she could become the third Oregon girl to win three consecutive individual state titles in the shot put and discus throw this spring.
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Linfield football made the NCAA Division III semifinals for a third consecutive season before falling to the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) on Dec. 12.
News-Register file photo## Linfield football made the NCAA Division III semifinals for a third consecutive season before falling to the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) on Dec. 12.
News-Register file photo##
McMinnville baseball won 10 games by shutout during a 24-6 season that culminated in a Class 6A Greater Valley Conference title and a trip to the OSAA Class 6A state semifinals.
News-Register file photo## McMinnville baseball won 10 games by shutout during a 24-6 season that culminated in a Class 6A Greater Valley Conference title and a trip to the OSAA Class 6A state semifinals.
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Linfield junior Jake Mihelic (center) clocked a personal-best 400-meter time of 47.07 seconds to win his event at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Canton, New York, in May.
News-Register file photo## Linfield junior Jake Mihelic (center) clocked a personal-best 400-meter time of 47.07 seconds to win his event at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Canton, New York, in May.
News-Register file photo##
 Linfield softball pitcher Montana McNealy received the Oregon Sports Awards’ Small-College Female Athlete of the Year award; McNealy, the Northwest Conference Pitcher of the Year, led the Wildcats to a third-place finish at the NCAA Division III Women’s College World Series after finishing fourth in the NWC.
News-Register file photo## Linfield softball pitcher Montana McNealy received the Oregon Sports Awards’ Small-College Female Athlete of the Year award; McNealy, the Northwest Conference Pitcher of the Year, led the Wildcats to a third-place finish at the NCAA Division III Women’s College World Series after finishing fourth in the NWC.
News-Register file photo##
Western Mennonite junior Emma Gibb led the Lady Pioneers to their first girls basketball state championship in school history in March and signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of California, Davis, in November.
News-Register file photo## Western Mennonite junior Emma Gibb led the Lady Pioneers to their first girls basketball state championship in school history in March and signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of California, Davis, in November.
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McMinnville residents Sara Dodd (left) and Kristin Bishop, the Reel Women of Fishing, pose for a photo along the Yamhill River in Dayton.
News-Register file photo## McMinnville residents Sara Dodd (left) and Kristin Bishop, the Reel Women of Fishing, pose for a photo along the Yamhill River in Dayton.
By Robert Husseman & Rockne Roll • News-Register Sports • 

Yamhill County Sports Year In Review

  1. Year of the Pirate

Who knew Dayton High School would have it so good in 2015?

Well, the Pirates’ boys basketball team enjoyed an early indication, entering the calendar year having won its first 10 games. The winning streak would stretch to 25 games before Horizon Christian of Tualatin knocked Dayton off in the Class 3A West Valley League playoffs championship game. No matter – the Pirates attained the No. 1 seed in the OSAA Class 3A state playoffs and defeated Umatilla to make the state tournament.

The Dayton girls basketball team also made the Class 3A WVL playoffs title game against rival Amity, which had beaten the Pirates earlier in the season. On Feb. 21, the Pirates exacted a measure of revenge in an 48-45 overtime victory over the Warriors, to claim the league title; one week later, Dayton defeated Colton in the 3A girls basketball state playoffs.

Then the Pirates took over Oregon’s Bay Area.

Dayton became the sixth school in the history of Oregon high school basketball to claim the boys’ and girls’ state championships on March 7. The No. 1-seeded boys yet again faced Horizon Christian in the 3A state final, for the fourth time in six seasons, and ground down the No. 2 Hawks in a 53-43 victory. Zach Bernards, the News-Register All-Valley Boys Basketball Athlete of the Year for 2015, scored a team-high 22 points, while D.J. Flowers had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Pirates (29-1).

The Dayton girls, seeded No. 3, effectively played their state championship game the day before, eking out a 45-42 victory over No. 2 Vale. The Pirates (26-3) rode the emotion from the win over the Vikings into a 51-39 decision over Salem Academy the next day to claim the program’s first state title since 1992. Shawnie Spink, the precocious freshman who would be named the 3A state player of the year, had 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in dismantling the Crusaders.

Momentum from basketball season bled into softball season, where 10 of the state-champion Pirates suited up at Jim Connelly Field for home games. Rachael Fluke’s walk-off two-run home run against Taft in the WVL championship game on May 22 secured a No. 1 seed for Dayton, which combined to outscore its first three 3A state playoff opponents 31-5 in making the 3A state title game in Corvallis.

On Dayton’s bus ride to the Oregon State University Softball Complex for the title game on June 5, senior Shelby Byerly produced a second-place medal the Pirates had claimed in 2013. Dayton had lost to Rainier, its opponent in the 2015 state championship game, in the 3A state final that year.

“We were all just staring at it the whole time. Shelby’s main goal – she was like, ‘I’m bringing it so it makes us mad,’” Dayton senior Sierra Ray recalled. “And it really did. It really helped.”

The Pirates unleashed their anger on the Columbians in the form of a 5-1 victory, the program’s third state championship in its history. Haley Couch scattered nine hits and struck out four in a complete-game performance; Teddi Hop went 3-for-3, and Cooper Ringnalda hit an RBI single.

Dayton’s wrestling, track and field and girls soccer teams also made state playoff or state championship appearances in the calendar year. Everywhere you looked, a Pirate was ready to strike.

 

  1. Locals throw down at state wrestling

Brian Barnes could barely breathe. The McMinnville sophomore faced Alvaro Venegas of McNary, the No. 1 seed at 195 points, for a state championship at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on

“I’m a little sick right now,” he told reporters. “My throat, breathing is like breathing through a straw. I’ve been spitting into these garbage cans all day … if you empty the garbage cans around here, my evidence is everywhere. I’d better not commit any crimes.”

No crimes were committed, but Barnes escaped from the match the eighth individual state wrestling champion in the history of McMinnville High School. His 4-2 victory over Venegas helped the Grizzlies to a fourth-place finish among Class 6A teams and secured the school’s first state wrestling trophy of any shade.

McMinnville’s wrestling triumph – senior Aspen Nelson was the 6A 113-pound runner-up, and four other wrestlers secured top-six finishes – was one of many successes for Yamhill County student-athletes at the OSAA State Wrestling Championships.

Sheridan senior Justin Acuff capped his career with his third state championship, the first such achievement by a Spartans wrestler. Acuff pinned all four of his opponents in securing the state title at 138 pounds.

Willamina junior Michael Reyes went 4-0 with two falls and two major decisions in capturing his second consecutive state title, the 2015 version at 126 pounds. He was joined among state titleists by teammate Austin Howard, who claimed the 3A 160-pound championship as a junior.

 

  1. Brosius leaves ‘Cats, lands with Rainiers

After nine years, 270 wins, five conference titles and a national championship, Linfield baseball head coach Scott Brosius said goodbye to the Wildcats’ baseball program following their 2015 season.

Brosius, a former Linfield player, won three World Series in an 11-year major league career with Oakland and the Yankees, including the 1998 fall classic where he was named series MVP. Brosius maintained a residence in McMinnville throughout his playing days and returned there after retiring from the professional game to lead his alma mater to four NCAA Division III regional championships, amassing a 29-14 postseason record and turning a well-respected program into the Northwest’s D-III baseball juggernaut.

At the time of his departure, no immediate announcement of his future plans was made, leading to speculation that he would join the staff of Oregon State University’s baseball program where his son, left-handed pitcher David Brosius, was set to begin playing this year. It was later announced that Scott had joined the Seattle Mariners organization as hitting coach for the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers. Brosius previously played in Tacoma when the club was known as the Tigers and was affiliated with Oakland.

Brosius was a career .257 hitter with 141 home runs in the major leagues, appearing in the 1998 All-Star Game and earning a Gold Glove in 1999.

 

  1. Yamhill County field athletes make marks

As Lindsay McShane continued her record-setting tour through high school throwing events, the Amity junior was her own harshest critic.

“I really wanted the triple crown,” McShane told the News-Register in June. “I’m okay with how I did in (the javelin throw) after the fact. At the time, I was pretty upset that I didn’t get it. My favorite part was probably (the discus throw), just because it was my personal best and got me No. 1 in state. I’m really glad that I finally pulled it out. Shot, not exactly what I wanted, but I PR’d so I can’t be too upset.”

McShane claimed Class 3A state titles in the girls’ discus throw and shot put and finished third in the girls’ javelin throw at the OSAA State Track and Field Championships, held June 22-23 at Hayward Field in Eugene. She became the first 3A girl since 1977 to win back-to-back shot put and discus titles; her bid to become the third girl in state history to claim shot put and discus titles in three straight years begins this spring.

McShane’s performance occurred in the midst of a field event bonanza from Yamhill County student-athletes. Dayton senior Maddie Shirley claimed her first individual Class 3A state title, in the long jump. Willamina’s Kasey Anderson and Sheridan’s Mackenzie Hall finished second and third, respectively, in the 3A girls’ high jump, and Riley Boardman of the Bulldogs took third place in the 3A boys’ discus throw.

McMinnville’s Bethany Mohler and Jalyn Clark-Johnson sustained that momentum in the Class 6A state championships, with Mohler finishing third in the girls’ javelin throw and Clark-Johnson taking fourth in the girls’ shot put.

 

  1. Linfield football returns to D-III semis

The emotion following the death of sophomore linebacker Parker Moore carried the Linfield football team through one of its more challenging on-field campaigns of recent memory in 2014. That season culminated in an appearance in the NCAA Division III semifinals, where the Wildcats lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The 2014 season included a rare loss in Northwest Conference play, to Willamette. Linfield left nothing up to chance in 2015, thoroughly dominating its opposition in a 9-0 regular season before powering past three opponents in the D-III playoffs.

Linfield outscored its regular-season opponents 481-61, with All-America defensive end Alex Hoff and seven all-conference first team selections suffocating opponents on defense. NWC Offensive Player of the Year Sam Riddle ably quarterbacked the Wildcats through the regular season and the first round of the D-III playoffs before injuring his right ankle against SUNY-Cortland on Nov. 28. Backup quarterback Tom Knecht adroitly steered the ship through the quarterfinals on Dec. 5, with Michael Metter kicking the game-winning field goal in a 38-35 victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor at Maxwell Field.

For the third consecutive season, however, Linfield’s playoff run ended in the semifinal round. A 20-0 first-quarter deficit proved too much to surmount on the road against St. Thomas (Minnesota), which defeated the Wildcats, 38-17, on Dec. 12. Linfield head coach Joseph Smith, the NWC Coach of the Year, now holds a 94-18 career record, including the 12-1 2015 season.

 

  1. Mac baseball makes 6A state semifinals

It is said that good pitching always beats good hitting. That’s a formula that McMinnville lived by in the 2015 OSAA Class 6A baseball playoffs, and it’s a formula that got them within a run of a state title game.

With a starting rotation that featured Oregon State University signee David Brosius, Riley McAnally and Wyatt Smith and a bullpen highlighted by fireballer Kade Mechals, the Grizzlies combined a finely-tuned small ball offense and sharp defense with a pitching staff that was the envy of the rest of the state. Every playoff game seemed to come with a story of Grizzly pitchers dominating their opponents, one way or another.

Smith combined with Mechals and Geovanni Esparza to shutout Sunset in the opening round for the No. 7-seeded Grizzlies, while McAnally needed just 93 pitches to get through 10 innings to give McMinnville the win in a game that only ended only when Kadin Wilson was hit by pitch with the bases loaded and the game tied.

Each of McMinnville’s starters had their calling card – Smith’s was an ability to seemingly escape any jam, while McAnally’s was stunning efficiency. For Brosius, it was pure dominance, exhibited best in the quarterfinals when he combined with Mechals to no-hit No. 2 North Medford.

McAnally nearly matched the feat when he took the hill in Mac’s semifinal against West Linn, retiring the first 11 men on 34 pitches before yielding a solo home run. It was the only run of the game for either side – McAnally yielded just two hits but was charged with the loss in a 1-0 decision that eliminated McMinnville.

 

  1. Linfield’s Milhelich wins national title

It took just one lap for Linfield sophomore Jake Mihelich to etch his name into the history books. His feat earned him a spiffy title, too – National Champion.

Mihelich turned in a career best time of 47.07 seconds to win the NCAA Division III title in his signature event, the 400-meter dash, at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, this May. Mihelich was 15 meters back of then-leader Ross Denman of Wisconsin-La Crosse as he entered the home straightaway, but rode a heavy tailwind to the finish line to beat Denman by more than a tenth of a second.

Mihelich was also named All-American in the 200-meter dash after making the finals at nationals and finishing fifth in 21.47 seconds. The Linfield sophomore from Surprise, Arizona, beat the field at the Northwest Conference Championships by a second and a half in the 400 and took second in the 200 to qualify for the national meet. His win in the 400 made Mihelich Linfield’s first national champion since Catherine Street won the pole vault in 2012, and first male national champion since Josh Lovell’s 2099 national title in the decathlon.

 

  1. Linfield softball comes back from brink

The long-dominant Linfield softball program didn’t look so dominant through Northwest Conference play in 2015, as the Wildcats’ 11-year NWC regular-season championship streak came to a halt. Linfield found itself fourth in the conference with a 17-11 record, barely qualifying for the inaugural NWC four-team postseason tournament. The Wildcats would face league champion Whitworth, George Fox and Pacific for the NWC’s NCAA Division III automatic playoff berth.

Linfield stunned the conference by going 3-0 in the NWC tournament and qualifying for the D-III playoffs. From there, the Wildcats stunned the nation.

Linfield became road warriors in the national playoffs, winning a regional in Decorah, Iowa, and a super-regional in Pella, Iowa, to make the D-III Women’s College World Series Field. The Wildcats went 2-2 in WCWS play in Salem, Virginia, claiming third place, the program’s sixth top-four finish under head coach Jackson Vaughan.

Wildcats senior ace Montana McNealy won the NWC Pitcher of the Year and Oregon Sports Awards’ Small College Female Athlete of the Year awards after posting a 30-8 record in 41 appearances, with a 1.31 earned-run average and 231 total strikeouts. Nine Linfield players earned all-conference honors in total, including infielder Kenzie Schmoll, who claimed an Elite 89 award for academic achievement.

 

  1. Emma Gibb’s big year with Lady Pios

Emma Gibb, the McMinnville resident and Western Mennonite girls basketball standout, led the Lady Pioneers to unprecedented heights in the 2014-15 season. Gibb and the Lady Pios claimed the first state title in program history by defeating Burns, 43-38, on March 7 in the OSAA Class 2A state final in Pendleton. Gibb, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaged 14.4 points and 13.2 rebounds per game as Western Mennonite went 26-4 overall and claimed the Class 2A Tri-River Conference title (14-0).

Gibb, the News-Register Girls Basketball Athlete of the Year for 2015, would not get a chance to join Western for a repeat bid this winter. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a September workout and will not play this basketball season.

The University of California, Davis, which had offered Gibb a scholarship to play basketball, assured Gibb that her offer was still on the table. Gibb signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Aggies in a November ceremony; she was joined by Salem native Maddie Hopper, who signed to play softball at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Gibb and Hopper were Western Mennonite’s second and third NCAA Division I signees in school history; Travis Derochowski signed to play basketball at Montana State in 1999.

 

  1. ODFW restricts fishing in Oregon

In the face of drought conditions and low river flow levels across our state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife took unprecedented action in July.

The ODFW banned afternoon fishing in nearly every Oregon river – including the South Yamhill River – in an effort to curtail rapid fish die-offs that resulted from warming lakes and rivers. (The ban was lifted one month later.) Such a ban had never before been enacted, and it occurred in response to the state’s dry winter and subsequent low snowpack.

Clams along the Oregon coast were also threatened in 2015, as a biotoxin swept north from the waters of California and infected razor clams south of Tillamook Head. The Oregon Department of Agriculture promptly closed the recreational harvest of clams.

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