The Saints softball team – contrary to what was previously reported here – has made the NWAC playoffs once again this year, and will start in the championship tournament in Spokane, Washington, this morning.
Mt. Hood will take on Southwestern Oregon Community College at 10 a.m., to help kick off the double-elimination tournament.
Reaching the postseason has become something of the norm for Mt. Hood. In fact, school records show the Saints have made the playoffs 22 straight seasons and counting (and winning four titles in the last eight years).
Props, then, to first-year head coach Brittany Hendrickson for keeping the streak alive.
Mt. Hood got into the 16-team tournament as one of the seven teams based on RPI – team rankings based on strength of schedule, taking into account the strength (record) of the teams they beat, and the strength of the teams they lost to.
Being in the South Region of the NWAC, Mt. Hood certainly had a tough schedule – which is why seven of the eight teams in the South reached the playoffs, more than from any other region.
The Saints finished their regular season 10-18 in conference play (18-21 overall), good for only seventh place in the South. But they were ranked 15th among the tournament teams, giving them their shot.
Sophomore infielder Maddy ‘Aus’ Newkirk painted making the playoffs as an opportunity for the Saints to prove how good they are.
“We are motivated to get this fresh start and to prove ourselves,” she said.
Southwestern Oregon is the second-ranked tournament team. The Saints played the Lakers four times this season and beat them once, back on April 11. It was a shootout of a game, and the Saints won, 20-18. Mt. Hood fell in the final three contests, getting pounded, 14-0, then playing a couple of tight ones that were each decided by one run, 7-6 and 6-5.
Despite the losses, Mt. Hood clearly showed it can compete with the Lakers and should make a good game out of it today. Newkirk likes her team’s chances.
“If we continue to hit them like we can and have solid pitching, then no worries,” she said.
If the Saints play at the level they have been recently, this is a game they can win. Newkirk believes in the talent they have. She said, “If we can take our first two we will have the momentum and I think we can win it all.”
After all, Mt. Hood has won the NWAC softball championship two of the last three years and would love to make it three of the last four.