By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

May brings a renewed fight for playoffs

It always seems like May sneaks up on us here in the News-Register sports department.

One minute, we’re mired in the middle of an April rain storm, the next we’re sitting under a bright blue sky near a baseball diamond or track, watching late-season events that have big playoff ramifications.

This year is no different. Local teams will wrap up their regular season games, matches, meets this week and turn their attentions to the upcoming postseason events. Everywhere you look in Yamhill County, we have programs that will again be a part of the festivities.

We start with the highly touted Dayton softball team, which is the No. 1-ranked team in the state at 3A and 18-2 this season. The Pirates clinched another West Valley League championship last week after they defeated No. 4-ranked Colton. They’ve lost just one game since March (11-8 in 10 innings to No. 2-ranked Rainier) and in six games since that loss April 13, the Pirates are 6-0 and have allowed four runs.

Dayton has three games left in the regular season. The Pirates play at Perrydale today, then finish WVL play Friday at Sheridan. Dayton has also added a nonconference game to finish the regular season May 14 at 4A’s No. 1-ranked team — Banks. That should be an intriguing matchup.

The following Wednesday — May 22 the Pirates will host a first-round playoff game, starting another postseason run that they hope will go one game further than it did in 2012 when Dayton lost 10-5 at Blanchet Catholic in the 3A semifinals. Judging on Dayton’s success this year behind pitcher Jamie Chenea and a young but experienced lineup, the Pirates could very well end up making it.

Dayton won’t be alone in the softball state playoffs. Willamina — the No. 8-ranked team in 3A — will have to battle through next week’s WVL tournament, but the Bulldogs should make it as the league’s No. 3 to the state playoffs. Under first-year coach Scott Vang’s direction, Willamina is 12-6.

Moving up a class, Yamhill-Carlton’s softball team (13-7) is No. 2 in the Cowapa League and two games up third-place Scappoose with three games to go. The Tigers play at Scappoose today and could wrap up a home play-in game as the league’s No. 2 seed. If Y-C survives that game, it should get to host another state playoff game in the first round May 22.

Looking around at other softball teams, Western Mennonite is in first place in the 2A/1A Special District 2 standings and Perrydale is third. There are three games left on their conference schedule. At 6A, McMinnville is 6-16 and sixth in the Pacific Conference. The Grizzlies do get to participate in the playoffs in a play-in game, but it will be on the road and against a decently high-ranked team.

In baseball, we don’t have a No. 1-ranked team in the area, but the Dayton Pirates are No. 12 and have clinched second place in the WVL behind Horizon Christian. The Pirates are 8-3 in league and play at No. 8 Blanchet Catholic on Wednesday before finishing Friday at Sheridan.

In 6A, McMinnville is now locked into a pivotal fight for second place in the conference. The Grizzlies (13-11) play at home-and-home with Century this week, finishing at Patton Middle School on Wednesday. The Grizzlies need to win one of two vs. Century to clinch second.

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