SSZ Briefs: Week of July 20

Challengers reach 45 wins, eye state tournament

The Emerald Challengers went 6-1 last week, moving to 45-5 overall on the season. Early last week the Challengers completed a four-game sweep of the defending state champion Medford Mustangs, winning Game 3 of the series 7-1 and Game 4, 7-6.

On the weekend, the Challengers needed to win one game of a doubleheader against the Roseburg Doc Stewart’s to clinch the 2023 Oregon Area 4 league title. After falling 2-1 in Game One, the Challengers got their win with a 15-5 mercy-rule victory in Game Two.

Three Thurston High athletes helped secure the win. Adam Elliott was 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored, Eli Crist went 2-for-3 with one run, and Collin Hernandez pitched a full game with 3 Ks. Next up for the Challengers this week is the start of the state tournament, which the Challengers are hosting. The tournament officially runs from July 21-26, with the championship game being held next Wednesday at Swede Johnson Stadium.

The Challengers play their first game of the tournament on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The winner of the state tournament advances to regionals in Wyoming at the beginning of August.

Top youth teams at Cal Ripken baseball regionals this weekend

EUGENE – Nearly 300 of the top 9-Under and 11-Under baseball players will converge on the Ted Normal Memorial Baseball Complex in Eugene this weekend for the Pacific Northwest Cal Ripken Regional Championship.

The tournament is hosted by the Willamette Valley Babe Ruth, and runs July 20-22.

Ten teams have qualified for each of the two tournaments that will be held simultaneously on four fields. The winner of each tournament earns a spot in the 2024 Cal Ripken World Series.

As host, Willamette Valley automatically qualified a team into each tournament along with teams from the Southern Oregon and Northern Oregon regions. There will also be teams from Washington, Idaho, and Montana in both brackets.

The tournament will feature pool play on July Thursday and Friday with the 10 teams split into two five-team brackets. Each team will play two games on both of those days with staggered starts at 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The top four teams advance to the semifinals at 10 a.m. on July 22 followed by the title game at 1 p.m.

“You could be looking at some future major league All-Stars perhaps, who knows,” tournament director Jennifer Hartley said. “Who knows what players you will be looking at. The Justin Herberts of the world played Willamette Valley All-Stars.”

Organizers said the tournament would be a boon to the local economy with nearly 1,000 players, coaches and family members expected in town for the long weekend.

Tournament passes are available and daily tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for those 5 and under.

Willamette Valley has become a regular regional host as it welcomed tournaments in 2019 and ’21 and was set to host in 2020 before Covid. Willamette Valley was unable to host last year due to the World Athletics Championships.

Kendall Auto Group is the presenting sponsor while McKenzie Sew On and the Springfield Drifters are lead sponsors.

Indoor competition space supported by survey

Travel Lane County officials released the following statement regarding facilities:

In 2022, the Portland Business Alliance commissioned a report titled “Oregon: The State of Sport.” The report looked at Oregon’s athletic, outdoor, team and recreational assets and notes that these assets are “…unparalleled in the United States.”

Piggybacking on this work in 2023, the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement partnered with Lane County Economic Development staff to evaluate how our region can build upon current sports assets and develop new assets that will drive economic impact.

In a recent community survey by the Turell Group, responses to questions in the Competitions and Travel Community Research Survey showed strong interest in additional indoor competition space. In the survey, 89% of respondents were somewhat to extremely interested in developing more indoor competition space in our area.

World Cup watch party scheduled for Eugene area

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is looking for a three-peat in the World Cup later this month. The team’s first two games are scheduled for July 21 at 6 p.m. against Vietnam and July 26 at 6 p.m. against the Netherlands.

In Eugene, head to 5th Street Market Alley on either date for a watch party. Alesong Brewing & Blending, McKenzie Brewing, Heritage Distillery and Pfeiffer Winery will be serving up beverages and many food options will be available including Café Yumm! and One Bad Dawg.

While there are no formal “watch parties” in Springfield, Creswell or Cottage Grove, Primetime Sports Bar & Grill in Springfield said it would be showing the games, and the 6 p.m. kick-off time means other bars and pubs will likely do the same.

OSAA seeking officials

The following is a news release from the Oregon School Activities Association and the Oregon Athletic Officials Association:

“The Oregon Athletic Officials Association and the Oregon School Activities Association are recruiting officials for the high school fall sports seasons. There is an immediate need for officials in football, volleyball and soccer.”

“Becoming a high school official has benefits including staying involved in athletics, maintaining good physical condition and earning money,” said to OAOA Executive Director Jack Folliard.

“Oregon has an urgent need for officials in all sports,” Folliard said.

Those interested should visit

Coach at the Colosseum

The Creswell School District has been publishing photos of students and employees of CSD during summer travels. Check out the hashtag CreswellAroundtheWorld on

Scott Worsham poses at The Colosseum in Rome. Worsham is a teacher and coaches the football and softball teams for the Bulldogs.



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