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Summer slacking? heck no

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - GOOD TIMES -- The Tigard Little League ages 10-11 all-star baseball team celebrates during play at the Oregon State Tournament. Summertime.

Time to relax. Time to take it easy.

Nope.

Not me. Not if you have my job.

Thanks to all the successful summer teams in the Tigard-Tualatin-Sherwood area, as well as amazing local athletes — past and present — there’s not been much time for relaxing of any type.

And, while it may be nice to have some down time (and, looking at my lawns, I certainly need more time for yard work), I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

As usual, my summer started with my Athlete of the Year stories. This year, the talented trio of graduating seniors included Emilee Cincotta of Tigard High School, Jill Farley of Tualatin High School and Keegan Lawrence of Sherwood High School.

Now, I’ve seen these three shine on their respective athletic fields for three or four years now. But, it was certainly a pleasure to sit down and talk the three of them — sort of get their story behind the story.

They’re all three very nice, very classy kids, and I see nothing but success ahead of them, both on, and off the field. By the way, Cincotta will be playing college soccer at the University of Nebraska, Farley will be playing soccer at Loyola Marymount University and Lawrence will be playing college football at Southern Oregon University.

Also early in the summer, I got to catch up with Chase Dalton, a Times’ Tigard High School Athlete of the Year from 2007.

Dalton’s path has been a fascinating one. He went from Tigard, to having early success as a decathlete at Brigham Young University, to a two-year mission, from some devastating injuries and then battling his way back to glory.

Dalton, who always has been one of my favorite athletes to talk to, has had an amazing summer. He’s competed at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento and he recently competed at the Thorpe Cup, held in Marburg, Germany.

To top it all off, Dalton is also getting married this summer.

I know it’s been said over and over again, but it’s nice when good things happen to good people.

And then there’s been the baseball and softball — a whole bunch of baseball and softball.

The Tigard Little League ages 10-11 all-star softball team got the summer off and rolling. I got to know the players, coaches and parents from that team a bit last year, when the squad, then playing at the ages 9-10 level, placed third at the Oregon State Tournament.

This is definitely a fun group of girls, but it’s also a group that set their eyes on a goal — the state championship.

After rolling through District 4 Tournament play at Alpenrose Dairy, the team headed to Salem for the state tournament. The Tigard team powered past its first three state tourney opponents before clashing with another powerhouse, Centennial, in the championship game.

Tigard battled its way past the big, strong Centennial team to get a thrilling 11-8 win in the state title clash, igniting a wild, fun victory celebration. I definitely see big things in this team’s future.

The Tigard Little League ages 10-11 all-star baseball team almost matched that feat. That Tigard team, after a struggling start, won its final three games at the District 4 tournament, held at Cook Park, to claim Tigard’s first district championship since 2005.

Tigard advanced to state tourney play, also at Cook Park, and that’s where the real fun began.

With big, enthusiastic home crowds there every day, the Tigard team won its first five games at the state tournament to move to the championship contest.

In the state title contest, Tigard was edged 11-10 by Hermiston in a thriller — maybe the best game of the summer.

The Tigard players I talked to after the game handled the defeat with dignity, class and pride.

I think that’s a reflexion of manager Greg Bui, who is one of the most positive, supportive coaches I’ve seen. The last thing Bui said to me the night of the state championship game was, “we’ll be back next year.”

I don’t doubt it for a second.

And then there was Oregon Independent Baseball Association season-ending tournament — sort of the summer championship at the high school level.

To say Sherwood limped its way into the tournament might be generous. The Bowmen were bumbling and stumbling at the end of the regular season. But, they certainly knew when to flip the switch.

I don’t know what kind of magic Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier has, but it sure seems to work. The Bowmen, a less-than-intimidating-looking group as a whole, went to work in a big way at the OIBA tourney. The team, behind strong pitching and defense, and some timely hitting, went 5-1 in the tourney, bettering Lake Oswego 5-4 in the championship game.

And, just making sure I stay busy, the Tigard and Tualatin OIBA teams made tournament appearances as well.

And, to cap things off, we have a group of Tigard girls and a group of Tualatin girls who have come together to form one heck of a softball team.

The Tigard/Tualatin City Little League Majors all-star softball team came out on top in a very competitive District 4 tournament, beating a strong Willow Creek team 3-0 in the tourney title tilt held July 18 at Alpenrose Dairy.

With that win, the Tigard/TC team advances to play at the Little League Softball World Series, which starts today (Thursday) back at Alpenrose.

This is a fun group of players who have really seemed to bought into team bonding. The girls have a lot of laughs, but they’re also pretty darn good. They have some real strong pitching and defense. And, when they get on the bases, they’re going to run.

I think they have a chance to make some real noise at the World Series.

And, of course, I’ll be there.

Dan Brood, who just might get to take a vacation some time this summer, is the sports editor at The Times.

You can follow him on twitter at @BroodSports.



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