After starting play in the East Region of the NWAACC in a full stagger, Community Colleges of Spokane suddenly finds itself facing a crucial week of competition that could go a long way in determining its postseason fate.
The Sasquatch (15-11, 7-9) lost their first five conference games and were still sitting at 3-9 in league play prior to sweeping a doubleheader from league-leading Columbia Basin College last Wednesday. Last Saturday, they traveled to Ontario, Ore., and swept a doubleheader from Treasure Valley.
The four-game winning streak has vaulted CCS out of the division cellar and into a three-way tie with Treasure Valley (17-18, 7-9) and Yakima Valley (15-18, 7-9) for fifth place in the East standings, a game behind Big Bend (19-15, 8-8) and Blue Mountain (19-17, 8-8), which are tied for third behind CBC (30-6, 12-4) and Wenatchee Valley (14-14, 9-7)
“Our kids have been competing their tails off,” coach Bobby Lee said of the Sasquatch’s revival. “They’re playing with a lot more confidence and not hurting themselves with mistakes like they did earlier in the year.”
But now comes the all-important stretch run that will determine what four teams qualify for the East Region playoffs that which will determine the Region’s two representatives in the NWAACC tournament May 21-25 in Longview, Wash.
The Sasquatch will look to make a major late-season statement when they play host to WVCC today and Big Bend on Saturday in a pair of doubleheaders that start at 1 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College.
“The two teams we play are both ahead of us in the standings,” Lee said. “So (today’s) games are huge, and so are Saturday’s. This is what we’ve talked to our guys about – just give yourselves a chance to get into that top four (in the East Region) and give yourselves a chance to make a playoff run.”
Adding to the excitement surrounding Saturday’s doubleheader against Big Bend will be the 20th anniversary reunion of the 1989 CCS team that won the school’s last NWAACC championship. Lee said 15 to 20 members of that team – including its coach, Keith Snyder, and Dave Keller, another former Sasquatch coach who was a player back then – are expected to return for the reunion.
“That’ll put a little extra pressure on us, but it should make the weekend all the more exciting,” Lee said.
Cougs’ sweep bittersweet
As sweet as Washington State’s three-game sweep of Pacific-10 Conference rival Arizona might have seemed to the fans on hand at Bailey-Brayton Field last weekend, it left Cougars coach Donnie Marbut feeling a bit unsettled.
“It was great to get a sweep,” he said. “But because of how poorly we played on Sunday, it was an odd way to get it.”
Marbut thought his team played well in posting 5-4 wins over the Wildcats on Friday and Saturday. But he was less than enamored with the way things played out Sunday, when the Cougars gave up 14 hits, committed three errors and were trailing 7-5 in the ninth inning before tying the game with a two-out rally and then winning it in the 11th on Cody Bartlett’s run-scoring double off the right-field wall.
“I hope our team doesn’t take that out of context,” Marbut said of the comeback. “Sometimes I think our hitters think we don’t have to be dialed in and that we can just do it any time we want to do it, but it’s not that easy. It just worked out for us that day.”
Zags on the road again
The West Coast Conference schedule-makers certainly didn’t do Gonzaga any favors when they decided to send the Bulldogs on the road to play four of their first five weekend series against league opponents.
The Zags opened conference play with a three-game series on the road at San Francisco and then traveled to Malibu, Calif., the following weekend to take on Pepperdine.
They returned home to entertain San Diego and moved up to No. 22 in one national poll after taking two of three from the Toreros. But last weekend, they headed to Portland, where they lost two of three games to the Pilots and dropped out of the rankings.
Now they must travel to the Bay Area for this weekend’s three-game series against Santa Clara, before playing their final two WCC series at home against Saint Mary’s (May 1-3) and Loyola Marymount (May 15-17).