The Ashland Pilots have clinched no worse than a second-place Area 4 finish and are still in the hunt for a league title heading into Sunday's regular season finale against St. Mary's.
Game 1 of the scheduled doubleheader between Ashland and St. Mary's is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Community Park (field 9, behind Harry and David Field). If the Pilots sweep, they can do no worse than finish in a first-place tie with Central Point. How that tie would be broken is a mystery to Ashland head coach Jeff Turner, but even if Ashland settles for second it has already clinched a spot in next week's state tournament by finishing in the top three.
"For losing what we lost going into summer ball, with Nick (Hall), Ian (Kendall), Lucas (Stone) and Luke (Baldrica) all being gone, it was said as a goal to make the state tournament," Turner said, "so to make the tournament and to maybe win the league title outright is really exciting for the kids. I'm really pleased with the work that they've done and how far we've come."
No matter what happens Sunday Ashland will play its first state tournament game of the season Thursday at Swede Johnson Stadium in Eugene. Yet to be determined is who the Pilots will face and when, though the start time, according to Turner, will be either noon or 3 p.m. The winner of the eight-team American Legion A state tournament, which employs a double-elimination format, advances to the regional tournament, to be held in Bozeman, Mont.
Ashland won back-to-back state titles in 2007 and '08 before its bid for a three-peat was thwarted in Medford.
High School Baseball
Former Ashland High baseball player Nick Hall has been named the spring season winner of the Qwest Scholarship Program.
The all-state shortstop, who graduated in June after helping the Grizzlies finish as the Class 5A runner-ups, will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Qwest and the Oregon Schools Activities Association.
Hall qualified for the scholarship when he was selected as the Ashland player of the game after the Grizziles' 3-0 state championship loss to North Eugene on June 5.
The Qwest Scholarship Program recognizes six high school students each school year who make a difference in their communities through leadership skills and a commitment to community service. Hall was a valedictorian at AHS, has worked at the YMCA and has worked as a volunteer for Ashland Youth Baseball.
Hall, who currently plays for the Medford Mustangs, will attend Pacific Lutheran University in the fall and play baseball for the Lutes in the spring.