Sports: schedule and quick hits

Sports Schedule:

Thursday, Aug. 16

Women’s Volleyball: Oregon Tech at WOU, New P.E. Building, 4 p.m.

Women’s Soccer: Chemeketa Community College at WOU, WOU soccer field, 10 a.m.

-Schedule subject to change

Quick Hits:

WOU football third in GNAC ranking

With close to 70 players returning from last year, Western Oregon University’s football team was picked to finish third in the GNAC conference standings, according to the GNAC Preseason Football Coaches Poll, the league announced Tuesday.

The Wolves received 14 points in the poll while Central Washington, the defending conference champion, collected four of the five first-place votes to take the top spot in the ranking. Central Washington received 24 points after going 11-1 last year and a perfect 8-0 in conference play. The Wildcats are also receiving national recognition, picking up the No. 6 position in the College Football America Yearbook’s Division II Preseason Poll and No. 11 in Street and Smith’s preseason rankings.

Azusa Pacific, which finished third in the GNAC last year, picked up the other first-place vote and four second-place votes to finish second in the poll with 21 points. Humboldt State, with 11 points, and Simon Fraser, with five points, rounded out the preseason standings.

All five GNAC teams open the season on Saturday, Sept. 1. Three open with home games as WOU hosts Angelo State, Simon Fraser hosts Division III Willamette and Azusa Pacific hosts West Texas A&M. Humboldt State opens at Midwestern State while Central Washington opens at Division I-FCS power Eastern Washington.

WOU fields uprooted for upgrades

The days of lost practices and suspended games due to unplayable conditions are over as the Western Oregon University baseball and softball fields receive a makeover this summer.

Both fields will have a new Bernhardt Golf Drainage system installed in the outfield to improve outfield playability in the natural grass areas. The softball area will receive a new Hellas Matrix Turf in the infield from Hellas Construction, as well as a new backstop. The baseball field already has an infield turf, but use of the facility was often limited due to water collection in the grass outfield.

The upgraded fields have been a long time coming, with years of both teams being forced to cancel or move home games to other venues because the fields were muddy and unplayable after rain. Improved drainage on both the softball turf surface and the baseball natural grass surface will not only protect the home field advantage for the Wolves, but will also reduce the costs associated with travel and renting off-campus facilities.

Ride, drink and be merry

If you enjoy cycling and wine tasting, consider joining the weekly 2018 Bike Oregon Wine Country Rides, every Sunday for the rest of August, starting and ending at the Eola Hills Winery Rickreall location.

Cost is $79 per person. Discounts are available for multiple rides or groups. Contact the Eola Hills Tasting Room for group discounts and more information. Loops range between 46 and 70 miles and vary in difficulty. Support vehicles offer riders a respite when needed and carry any purchased wines.

All rides include water and snack stops, a sack lunch, barbecue with wine tasting.

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