La Grande eyes title streak

Softball title defenders a class of newcomers
Staff Report

Among the five returning state champions, La Grande is the class of the state as it prepares for a run to a third consecutive title this spring.

But, it's hard to overlook Dayton as it prepares for another title run.

While the Tigers won the Class 4A title the past two seasons, Dayton reached the 3A final for the fifth consecutive year, although it lost the title game- for the second straight year.

Henley enters the season with a title-game run of three years, having last won in 2017.

The 2019 titlists featured three teams that ended the regular season at top seeds in the class: La Grande, Ridgeview at 5A and Clatskanie at 3A. North Douglas, seeded ninth, was the longshot of the spring at 2A. At 6A, third seed Sheldon beat fourth-seed Tualatin in the final, although the semis also featured the other top two seeds. In the 6A playoffs there were only two upsets - wins by a visiting team, until the semifinals. With four upsets, this past spring actually surpassed the previous year when the 6A bracket featured only three.



Remembering the past is always fun

Wed, 03/13/2013 - 7:46am
Cliff Pfenning
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Last seen: 2 days 15 hours ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

When I ran across Dennis Murphy on Saturday at the Class 6A state basketball tournament, he lit up on a topic he knows very well, but doesn't get to talk about much anymore.

It's his first championship - one he earned in 38 years ago while coaching Little League softball.

I ran across that fact two years ago while doing some history research and finding that a team from Gresham had won the softball World Series in 1983. I worked on getting that team together for a 30-year anniversary, and there's some video of that up on Those ladies had a great time showing off photos from their experience three decades earlier.

Murphy's name popped up on the list of champions, and immediately hit me - is that the same Dennis Murphy who's the basketball coach at South Medford?

Murphy had a great time talking about the unique elements of that season as the South Medford band played in the background, in particular, that the team won the series in the only year softball actually played in Williamsport. Softball people will note that's a good thing as the field there is baseball oriented, not softball - there's grass in the infield.

Since then, Murphy has gone on to a distinguished

The best part of the interview was at the end, after filming, when he sat back down and and reflected on reflecting with a big smile - "that was fun."

Getting people to talk about their experiences is always fun for me, too.

And, hey, how about those hats?

Here's the video:


Road to Alpenrose heads for Gold Hill

District winners meet to crown a state champion for West Regional
July 1, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

The skies opened up with a burst of sunshine Sunday afternoon and provided a perfect setting for the girls of Northeast Portland to book themselves a trip to Medford.

With their third 10-run win in a week, the all-stars from the combined Little Leagues of Hollywood, Rose City and Lakeside won the District 1 Tournament and will play in the state tournament beginning Friday in Gold Hill, located just outside Medford, with a spot in the Western Region tournament going to the winner.

Most of the girls headed for Gold Hill weren't certain where the World Series that awaits the West Region champion was set to be played, which might actually be part of the game plan for coaches who want their young players to stay focused on the task at hand.

"It feels great to be going to the state tournament, because I'm with my friends," said Mollie Hamelund, the star pitcher for the HRL team. "We haven't talked much about (the World Series). We're really focused on the state tournament and the next game."

Teams from the state's nine districts will compete in pool play and then a single-elimination bracket. The tournament had been slated to be played in Brookings, but was moved to Gold Hill on Monday.

The all-stars from South Salem/Sprague won the state event last year.

HRL won its three District 1 games by scores of 11-1, 11-1 and 16-3 with all of the contests ending in either the fourth or fifth inning due to the 10-run rule. Most of the players were together two years ago when they won the 9/10 tournament and advanced to the state tournament. This year's team, with a couple years of physical maturity and the addition of key players, is poised to bring the state title home to a district that is far more well-known for its baseball talent.

"It's still exciting to think about what we just did in our games in this tournament," assistant coach Craig Hamelund, Mollie's father, said. "Now we're wrapping out heads around the fact we're going to be driving seven hours to play more softball."

"Our teamwork is the strength of our team," third baseman Grace Dooney said. "That's what's going to carry us to the state tournament title."

West Salem has also advanced to Brookings having won the District 7 title. The teams from Centennial and Portland Powell play Monday for the District 2 title.

Oregon's champion will play as part of the 10-team West Regional tournament and within a five-team pool that includes Washington, Idaho, Hawaii and Arizona

District 4, which includes leagues from Southwest Portland and Beaverton to Tillamook, competes in a separate tournament in June to crown a champion that plays as the host team for the World Series that runs August 9 through the 15th at Alpenrose.

Reaching Alpenrose seemed out of mind for the all-stars from the HRL team, what with playing one game at a time and competition from phones, Facebook and summer chatter.

"I've had to tell some of the girls there is a World Series that we can play in," said Sheena Mendoza, one of the additions to this year's squad. "But, where it is? I have no idea."

"We go to Alpenrose every year, so they know there's a big tournament there ... they just might not know it as the World Series," manager Christe White said. "If you call it 'the championship,' then maybe it might register.

"And, you have to remember, they're 11 and 12 and they don't pay attention on some of those things so much."




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