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Roll, Storm: The Surge for a playoff spot

The team sits in fifth place through 23 games

By Jake Branham

Win 6 games in a row.

It’s not an easy feat, but it’s definitely necessary for any hopes of postseason play for Chemeketa’s baseball team this year.

The Storm is three games out of second place through 23 games of league play, making the remaining six games crucial and must-win if the team is to grab a playoff spot for the NWAACC tournament.

Clark Community College has firm control of first-place with a 17-7 record, but Lane and Southwestern Oregon are tied for second with 13-10 records.

Just three games separate the second and fifth-place teams, leaving the battle for second up for grabs in the remaining six games of the season.

Mt. Hood is in the mix for a playoff spot with a one-game lead over Chemeketa for fourth-place.

The Storm has double-headers remaining with Clark, SWOCC, and Mt. Hood and is in need of a sweep of all remaining games to help secure a playoff spot.

The Storm struggled early on with production on the offensive side of the plate, accounting for the second-worst team batting average throughout the first half of league play. But Chemeketa has since made adjustments that have contributed toward the team’s overall win record.

In its last five games alone, which includes a half-inning makeup game from earlier this season, the Storm scored 39 runs and won four times.

“We just needed to play one game at a time, not get ahead of ourselves, quit worrying, and just get back to the basics of playing Storm baseball and having fun, sophomore DH Ryan Snow said. “That’s when we’re at our best. Our situational hitting needed to improve, and we had to quit trying to do too much on our own.

“We started putting in extra work and stopped being satisfied with just the time we put in during practice and focused more on what we can do as a team to help each other and pass the baton instead of trying to do it all by ourselves and individually.”

With the season dwindling down on its final couple of weeks, focus, work ethic and determination will determine the fate and success of the Storm. Players and coaches agree that there is no better time for the team to gain momentum and play its best baseball than at the make-it-or-break-it stage as the season winds down.

Brenden Shaffer, Chemeketa’s sophomore third-baseman, said, “We have got to really bear down and play to our best ability and win out. Our pitchers have been dealing and working their tails off all season. We have to start helping them out more and producing as hitters and as a whole lineup, working together rather than each trying to produce on our own.

“Our energy has and needs to continue to increase because at this point we all know it’s win or go home, and none of us are ready to call it quits on the season.”

Even if Chemeketa wins its remaining six games, the team will still need help from last-place Clackamas to pick up wins against Lane and Mount Hood.

Clark also will need to win its remaining games to further separate its first-place lead to add more losses to the records of Lane, SWOCC, and Mount Hood in the race for second-place.

“There’s more sense of urgency now, with a focus that will add up to the deciding factors of these last games,” Snow said. “There’s still hope. We still know that if we do the intangibles, we can continue putting a good run together.

“Regardless of what the other teams do and the final spot, we’re still staying positive and trying to end the season on a good note and on our terms. The fate of the season is ultimately in our control.”

Roll, Storm.

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