Harrisburg — With the number of postponements and irregularities that have come with this Spring so far, it was only destined that arguably the best conference in 3A would have chaos sewn into its race to decide the conference champion. After Harrisburg/Mohawk beat Pleasant Hill for the second time this season on Friday, the upcoming three game set between Santiam Christian and Pleasant Hill will likely decide the conference champion, with an outside shot that Harrisburg/Mohawk wins it if the cards fall in a certain order. Let’s preview the most important week on the 3A Mountain Valley Conference slate this season.
Why Is It So Important?
Unlike these two, Harrisburg/Mohawk has completed every conference game on their schedule except the last of three games against Pleasant Hill, which was postponed to May 18th. With that in mind, Harrisburg/Mohawk’s current 8-3 MVC record is all but their final stand. Meanwhile, Santiam Christian sits at 7-1 and Pleasant Hill at 5-2, both of whom can potentially clinch an MVC title with a sweep of the other one this week.
The best scenario for Santiam Christian is to take two of three against Pleasant Hill, while the Billies would be best off by sweeping the series and positioning themselves for the final showdown with Harrisburg/Mohawk on the 18th, where being swept by the Eagles would still make them tied at the top of the MVC.
Who Are The Key Players?
On the hitting side, Pleasant Hill has Stella Hucka and Shyanne Fenley leading the charge, with both hitting well over .500 this season and being two of only three players on the Billies with a home run this season. Kiley Campos is also another add-on with hitting as a specialty, entering next week with a .553 average and 27 RBI’s for the season. It is truly a lineup of contact hitters that put the ball in play and make the defense play the ball straight up.
With Santiam Christian, the Eagles don’t quite have the strength in the hitting department, but they do have some girls that can go off on a whim. Over the last few games, a host of ladies have stepped up to help the team to a win. Miranda Scovil, Kate Fast, Maddie Roth, and Jaiden Jaquez are just a few of the girls that have played major roles in wins this year for the Eagles.
Who Is In The Circle?
Pleasant Hill: The go to for the Billies is ace Karley Bloxham, who enters the series with a 9-3 record and a 3.15 ERA for the season. In the case of a doubleheader, then Pleasant Hill has Bella Black as their second arm in the circle. Black touts a 4-1 record and a 5.31 ERA in her five appearances this year. Black strikes out more hitters than Bloxham, but Bloxham doesn’t allow as many walks as Black does with more of her at-bats coming to contact.
Santiam Christian: Unlike the Billies, Santiam Christian only really relies on Miranda Scovil to throw in the circle. Scovil has gotten the Eagles to a 12-6 record overall, with a 10-6 mark in the circle (2 wins were by forfeit vs La Pine). She is a bit more of a wild card on what might happen, as she is known for getting into run-scoring shootouts to pull out wins, such as the 15-8 win over Elmira and 9-8 win over Harrisburg/Mohawk. She is a good option to have in the circle if you are the Eagles, but they might also need to put up a bunch of runs to pull some wins out against Pleasant Hill’s contact lineup.
Both teams can score, both teams have good pitching, both teams can win this series. This will ultimately come down to a big question: Who figures out their opposing pitcher first? If either team cracks the code way before the other, then this series will swing in their favor. I also look at this little nugget: Santiam Christian took two of three games against Harrisburg/Mohawk, while Pleasant Hill has been cracked in both their meetings so far. I think Pleasant Hill is the better team, but I also like how the Eagles have performed better against the better competition in their league. In other words, it is a 50/50 shot of who wins this set next week.