News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

League champion Outlaws enter playoffs on Wednesday

The Mountain Valley Conference Baseball Champion Varsity Outlaws are hosting an Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) playoff game to extend their remarkable 2024 campaign.

Sisters will face South Umpqua on Wednesday, May 22, at 4:30 p.m. at Sisters High School, in Round 2 of the OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union 3A Baseball State Championship.

This is a single-elimination matchup: the winner makes the quarterfinals; the other goes home.

The Outlaws (Mountain Valley Conference No. 1, OSAA Rank No. 5) have a league record of 15-3.

Sisters Varsity Assistant Coach  Steve Hodges was the head coach for 11 years, then returned to the team the last two years, specializing in hitting and pitching instruction.

"This team and where they are, coming up on this playoff game on Wednesday, we've got some kids in the program that have been a part of the playoffs last year. I think that always helps," said Hodges. "It's been good to see these guys be able to repeat as league champions two years in a row. We played some close games this year, which helped us. I think when you play close games and have success in close games, you're playing under pressure and experiencing what the playoffs are going to be like, because most playoff games are fairly close most of the time."

The South Umpqua Lancers (Far West League No. 4, OSAA Rank No. 12) finished 15-5 in league.

"They are certainly no slouches. They come from a pretty good conference. The placing in a conference can be misleading because sometimes, if you've got a strong conference, the third- or fourth-place team is not a bad team," Hodges said. "They have several left handed pitchers. We're preparing by having a left handed pitcher come out to pitch to our kids in practice."

Pitching has been a very good part of the Outlaws baseball program, too. Throughout the year, the team's rotation of strong pitchers has kept them in games.

"We haven't walked a lot of the opposition's offense. We have not given them free passes," Hodges said. "A lot of teams struggle with control issues and allow guys on base, then a hit or two, or an error, and suddenly some runs score. We have done a really good job from the mound of not providing the opposition with free runners."

Sisters coaches have spent the past week scripting out situations where the team must execute under pressure, offensively and defensively.

"We have our hitters hit against our starting nine, where they have to defend a runner at first and second with no outs. We put a score on the board of four, five or six, and have them play from behind to score runs. We throw a lot of different, real-game situations and have them execute. We feel like that's the best preparation for helping kids perform under the pressure of a playoff game, because Wednesday is the last game on our schedule that we know of, for sure, right? So we have to play to continue to get another playoff date scheduled for the Outlaws."

Also on Wednesday, Pleasant Hill (Mountain Valley Conference No. 3, OSAA Rank No. 4) hosts a round-2 game against Monday's winner of Taft (OSAA no. 13) vs. Burns / Crane (OSAA No. 20).

The Wednesday winners at Pleasant Hill and at Sisters will advance to the Quarters on Friday. The Quarterfinals winner will go to the Semifinals on May 28. The 3A Finals take place June 1.

"We want to play past Memorial Day Weekend, into June," Hodges said. "The team's in a good place: high-energy practices with a lot of focus. I think the kids will be ready to play by Wednesday."


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