By Nick Patterson Herald writer
EVERETT — It been a rough season for the Everett AquaSox. Victories have been hard to come by of late, and Everett owns the worst overall record in the Northwest League.
Nevertheless, Everett still has every chance of reaching the postseason.
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, Everett somehow still finds itself in a good position for earning a playoff berth.
It’s been a mostly trying season for Everett. Going into Monday night’s game against Vancouver the Sox were 21-41 and on pace for just 26 wins, which would be the fewest in the franchise’s 31-year history — the previous worst was 29 in 1997. It’s been rough seas lately, too, as Everett had dropped 10 of its previous 13 contests going into Monday.
But despite the struggles, Everett finds itself right in the thick of a playoff race. The Sox were just 10-14 in the first 24 games of the second half. However, the entire North Division has struggled during the second half, meaning Everett was just two games behind Tri-City and Vancouver, which were tied for first place. The team that finishes first during the second half earns a playoff berth.
So the Sox still have visions of the postseason in their heads.
“We have a great chance,” Everett manager Dave Valle said when assessing the Sox’s postseason possibilities. “What are we, two games out right now? That’s just putting a hot streak together. We haven’t gotten hot at all yet. I’m waiting for it, and this would be a great time for it to happen.”
If Everett is to make a push for the playoffs, the Sox will have to do so against the South Division. Beginning Tuesday, Everett has 10 straight games against South Division foes: five at home against Eugene, followed by five at Boise. Eugene went into Monday 11-13 in the second half and 26-36 overall, while Boise was 12-12 and 34-28.
Should the Sox still be in the hunt after that 10 game stretch, they finish off the season with a three-game series at Tri-City, which could be battling head-to-head with Everett for a playoff spot.
All it might take for Everett to get over the hump is a couple breaks. Everett was a miserable 6-20 in one-run games this season going into Monday, including dropping its previous seven. No other team in the league had lost 10 one-run contests.
“We’ve had so many one-run games that we’ve come up on the short end of the stick, where it was just one run here or one base hit there,” Valle lamented. “It’s just going to be some of these young men stepping up in those critical situations.
“I’m just looking for that extra effort to finish strong,” Valle added. “One of the tendencies I think players have when they see the end is they start to let up a little bit. We need to put the pedal down and finish strong, finish through the tape.”
Whichever team wins the second half will face Spokane, the North Division’s first half winner, in the first round of the playoffs. Should Spokane rally and also win the second half, then the team with the second-best overall record would advance to the playoffs. It’s extremely unlikely Everett would finish with the second-best overall record in the division.
Therefore, it’s first place or bust for the Sox.