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WEB SPECIAL: Skyhawks falter in Fitzgerald finale

Roseburg ace Jared Priestley shuts the door on Southridge's playoff hopes

ROSEBURG - The Southridge baseball team had battled the best all year long.

And the Skyhawks got a first-hand look at one of the state's best teams in the sec-ond round of the Class 6A state playoffs last week. While they appreciated the opportu-nity against Southern Oregon Conference champ Roseburg, the Skyhawks didn't much like the outcome, falling 4-1 at Legion Field on May 23.

Key to that outcome was the performance of Roseburg senior ace Jared Priestley, who fired a one-hitter at Southridge, allowing one run in the top of the first and not one baserunner the rest of the way.

'He just curveballed us to death,' said Southridge coach Don Fitzgerald. 'We had a couple of errors that cost us, but other than that it was a good ballgame.'

The loss ended Southridge's season at 16-13 after a third-place finish in the Metro League, while the Indians were ousted in Tuesday's state semifinals by Oregon City and ended their year at 24-3.

Fitzgerald announces resignation

The game also marked Fitzgerald's final game as head coach after nine years at the helm of the Southridge program and 12 years total with the program. Fitzgerald, who made his announcement on May 24, said he would spend next spring watching his daughter Erica in her senior season on the softball team at Corban University, then would seek a return to high school coaching.

'It was a huge relief,' Fitzgerald, 48, said of his decision. 'It was time to move on. I'm thrilled with the deci-sion.'

During his tenure as head coach at Southridge, Fitzger-ald's Skyhawks won three Metro League championships (in 2004, 2008 and 2011), went 82-61 in Metro play (a .573 winning percentage) and 151-89-1 overall (.629).

His best teams were those three league champions - they were 23-4 in 2011, 15-9-1 in '08 and 21-5 in '04) plus the 2005 team that finished sec-ond in the Metro League and went 20-8 overall. Fitzger-ald's 2005 team was his best in the playoffs, winning twice before being derailed in the state quarterfinals by eventual state champion Sprague.