INDEPENDENCE — Central’s baseball team hopes a strong end to the regular season leads to success in the postseason. The Panthers entered the week winners of five of its last six games and will host Marist Catholic in a state play-in game Friday at 4:30 p.m.
STATE PLAY-IN GAME
What: Marist Catholic (13-13 overall, 9-12 Midwestern League, sixth place) vs. Central (16-8 overall, 13-8 Mid-Willamette Conference, third place).
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Central High School.
Admission: Adults, $6; students $4.
What’s at stake: The winner advances to the first round of the state playoffs on May 24. The loser is eliminated.
“We have played very well the last three weeks, especially offensively,” coach Reed Rainey said. “We are playing with a lot of confidence and spirit right now.”
Pitching and defense had always been a strength, but the offense is beginning to catch up, Rainey said.
That makes the Panthers a dangerous, complete team entering the postseason.
Marist Catholic has had an up-and-down season and enters with a 13-13 record overall, but does boast a win over Crater, ranked second in the state by the OSAA.
“Marist is a good team that plays all three phases of the game well,” Rainey said. “They play in a very competitive conference, so they will be well seasoned and have experience against good teams. This will be a very tough game.”
The winner advances to the first round of the state playoffs on May 24.
“If we continue to swing the bats well, we will be a tough team for anyone to play,” Rainey said. “I’m very proud of the kids. They’ve worked hard and deserve this. The community support has been outstanding as well.”