The last time the Darrington baseball team traveled to Tacoma to take on Tacoma Baptist, the Loggers found themselves in a wild, 19-18 defeat that went 10 innings.
After the game, on March 22, the players returned home to learn a devastating mudslide had hit their hometown.
The Loggers will once again travel to Cirque Park in Tacoma today to take on the Crusaders at 4 p.m. in a district play-in game, with the winner moving on to the 2B district playoffs on Thursday. The loser’s season is over.
“The kids are just excited to get a chance to get into districts,” said Darrington head coach Cam Ross. “We haven’t been in that situation in three years. … And it’s nice to have someone you’re familiar with.”
It’s a sharp turnaround for a Loggers team that won just one game last season. Ross said that many Darrington players go right from Little League to high school ball, where it takes a little time to adjust.
“They’re starting to pick up the nuances of the game,” Ross said. “Communicating with one another; knowing the situation. … A lot of the kids that are playing, they had to play the last two or three years. They had to be varsity starters as eighth graders or freshman. They’re starting to become upperclassmen and things are more familiar.”
The Loggers knew going into their regular-season finale that if they could get a victory against Orcas Island,they would clinch a spot in the district play-in game against Tacoma Baptist.
A six-run seventh inning helped clinch an 8-5 victory for Darrington, continuing its season for at least one more game.
“The kids were pretty excited. It was pretty lively on the bus ride home,” Ross said. “On the ferry ride it was calm. We could sit back, relax and take a big sigh of relief. But on the way back it was kind of nice to sit and talk on the bus and have the kids be able to experience that.”
Next the Loggers will experience a taste of the postseason. In the last matchup that went 10 innings, Tacoma Baptist edged out the Loggers in a thriller.
Ross is happy to have a familiar opponent, but cautions his players to not read too much into the last game against the Crusaders, which was just Darrington’s second game of the season.
“On the way home (from the Loggers’ last game against Orcas Island) I talked to the boys about how having a familiar opponent is nice, but also not taking them for granted,” Ross said. “I’m not sure how many games they had played at that point, but that was only our second game of the season. There were plenty of mistakes made by both teams.
“I just told the boys it’s one of those things you can feel good about going in knowing your opponent, but don’t underestimate them. That was almost 16 games ago. They’ve gotten better, we’ve gotten better. I’m just looking forward to a good matchup. … If you lose your season’s over so I’m expecting the best out of both teams.”
As for the other event that occurred on March 22, Ross said he’s trying to remain focused on baseball.
“It’s not like I think about it in the fact that that was our opponent that day,” Ross said. “And I’m not sure how the kids are thinking about it. For me, I’m just looking forward to having an opportunity to play an opponent that we’ve went up against this year and having a chance to advance in the playoffs.
“I think the kids have had an opportunity to move forward and have a good season despite what’s been going on around our town.”