Softball a bright spot for Redmond girls teams

By Beau Eastes / The Bulletin / @beastes

The split with Ridgeview has been particularly tough on Redmond High's girls athletic teams.

While the Panthers' boys programs have thrived in their first school year at the Class 5A level — Redmond High has won Intermountain Conference titles in football, basketball, wrestling and baseball — their female counterparts have struggled.

The lone exception to an otherwise rough nine months for Panther girl athletics has been the school's softball team. Redmond High ended the regular season 22-4 and No. 7 in the Oregon School Activities Association's 5A rankings. The Panthers, who have outscored their opponents 208-65 this year, won the 5A IMC championship — they were Intermountain Hybrid champs the past two seasons. On Wednesday, they host Wilsonville in a first-round state playoff game.

John Ferera, who is in his second stint coaching the Panthers, has guided Redmond to 14 wins in its past 16 games. On the field, the Panthers are led by senior pitcher Ashley Pesek.

Pesek, who has committed to play NCAA Division II softball at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, next fall, has led the way for the Panthers, recording six shutouts.

A win on Wednesday would put Ferera's squad in the state quarterfinals for the second time in three years and give the Redmond girls their first postseason victory — in any sport — since Ridgeview opened its doors last fall.

Here's a quick look at all of the softball and baseball playoff games involving Central Oregon teams on Wednesday:

Class 5A baseball, first round

Liberty at Redmond, 5 p.m.: The Panthers (19-6 overall) have been nearly unbeatable since dropping four of their first six games of the season, winning 17 of their last 19 regular-season contests. The Intermountain Conference champions face the Falcons (16-11), who tied for fourth in the Northwest Oregon Conference. Liberty upset Springfield on the road, 3-2, last week in the 5A play-in round.

Pendleton at Bend, 4:30 p.m.: Having come up one victory short of the state finals a year ago, the Lava Bears (17-8 overall) seem poised for another deep run in the postseason. Bend has won 12 of its past 14 games. The Buckaroos (11-15) snapped a seven-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 12-11 win over Summit in Bend to earn a playoff berth.

Class 4A baseball, first round

Astoria at Sisters, TBA: The Outlaws (24-2 overall) roll into the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the state, having won 22 straight games. Sisters' .923 winning percentage is the highest in 4A, 5A or 6A. A win against the Fishermen (16-8 overall) would put Sisters in the 4A state quarterfinals for the third straight season.

Class 5A softball, first round

Wilsonville at Redmond, 4:30 p.m.: The Intermountain Conference champion Panthers (22-4 overall) look to advance to the state quarterfinal round for the second time in three years. The Wildcats (18-8), the third-place team from the Northwest Oregon Conference, earned a state playoff berth with a 10-0 play-in victory over Roosevelt last week.

Bend at Hood River Valley, TBA: Making their first state-playoff appearance in school history, the Lava Bears (17-9 overall), runners-up in the Intermountain Conference, face an Eagle squad they lost to twice — 11-1 and 8-5 — in April. Hood River Valley (14-11) finished third in the four-team Columbia River Conference with a 4-8 league mark and has lost 10 of its past 14 games.

Class 4A softball, first round

Sisters at Molalla, TBA: The Indians, winners of the Tri-Valley Conference, are 19-5 this season and have won 11 of their past 12. The Outlaws (18-6 overall) finished second in the Sky-Em League this year after a 2012 campaign in which they finished 4-13.

Looking back

Athlete of the week: Redmond junior Kyle Tinnell led the Panthers to the Class 5A Special District 1 boys track and field championship on Friday and Saturday. Tinnell won the 100-meter dash, placed second in the long jump and triple jump, and ran the anchor leg on the Panthers' 400-meter relay squad that turned in a second-place effort.

Contest of the week: Bend High edged Eagle Point 6-3 on Friday in the Class 5A play-in round to advance to the state softball playoffs for the first time in school history. Megan Berrigan led the Lava Bears to the victory by pitching four innings of shutout softball.

Looking ahead

Tuesday

Bend High at Jesuit boys lacrosse, 7 p.m.: The Lava Bears, fresh off their first state postseason victory, play the Crusaders of Portland in a second-round state playoff game.

Thursday-Saturday

Class 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A state track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene: Three days, six state meets. Oregon's small-school state championships return to Hayward Field after being relegated to Western Oregon University the past six years. The Summit and La Pine boys, as well as the Storm girls, all look to defend state titles from 2012.