Creswell, Sports Zone

Senior sendoff: A playoff victory?

EUGENE – The Creswell Bulldogs softball team took a break from Mountain Valley Conference (MVC) play last week with three games. The Bulldogs capped off the week with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Class 4A No. 15 Marist Catholic – a win in which Creswell’s defense made key play after key play.

“I was very impressed. I mean, that’s probably the best defense we’ve played all year. And those (Marist) girls can hit the ball,” said Creswell coach Scott Worsham. “There were some shots that we just made some great plays on; it was awesome.”

Senior pitcher Hope Ukolov led the way for the Bulldogs, pitching the full game and adding 2 hits, 1 run, and driving in 2 of Creswell’s 3 runs.

“(Hope)’s very important to this team. She’s one of our leaders, for sure, and she’s just a warrior. When she gets in the circle, she’s getting after it there, and I thought she did a great job of keeping her composure,” Worsham said. “She gave up that solo home run, and it could’ve turned into something more than that. She stayed strong and kept hitting her spots and just did an excellent job for us. Offensively, you know, she’s our big hitter. I mean, she hit the heck out of it today too.”

Creswell moved to 11-8 on the season with the victory, and the Bulldogs are 7-5 and in 4th place in the MVC. All five MVC losses are to No. 6 Harrisburg and No. 10 Pleasant Hill, though the Bulldogs did take the final game of their series against Pleasant Hill 9-8 two weeks ago.

“We’ve had our ups and downs. There’s days we’ve played, honestly, bad softball, some not-so-great softball. And then there’s day’s we’ve played really great. I think here these last few days, we’ve been really playing good softball,” Worsham said. “The girls are getting a lot of confidence offensively and defensively. I’d like to take what we’ve been doing these last couple days here and roll it into the end and see if we can’t finish 6-0.”

PIERRE WEIL / CHRONICLE PHOTO. Creswell’s Hope Ukolov gets a hit during the team’s 3-2 win over Marist Catholic last week. Ukolov pitched the full game for the Bulldogs and added 2 hits, 1 run, and 2 RBI as Creswell moved to 11-8 on the season.

As Worsham noted, the Bulldogs have only two series remaining: one against La Pine (9-7-1, 6-4-1 MVC) and one against Elmira (9-9-1, 7-4-1). La Pine and Elmira are the two teams  Creswell is sandwiched between in the conference standings. The top three teams in the conference earn automatic playoff bids, so the next two weeks will decide the fate of Creswell’s postseason hopes.

“This is how we got to play the rest of the way. We just gotta play great defense; we’re gonna have to make some big plays on defense,” Worsham said. “Offensively, we have to just keep on hitting the ball well, find a way on base, and be hungry when there’s runners in scoring position. I think we can do this. I feel confident we can win six in a row and take that third spot to state for sure.”

If the Bulldogs hope to make their third-straight postseason appearance, they’ll need their group of nine seniors to continue leading the way. In the past three seasons, including this one, the Class of 2024 athletes have led Creswell to a combined record of 35-32 and two playoff appearances, though they’re still looking for their first postseason win.

“They’re very important. We got nine seniors and they came in as freshmen and have given four years and nothing but hard work and great attitudes. They’re fun to coach for sure,” Worsham said. “They’ve been the anchor of this program, and a lot of them have been playing varsity since they were sophomores. It’s gonna be tough to see them go because they are really good softball players and really good kids.”

Worsham said one of the goals that’s been driving the team all season has been desire to win a postseason game, and he said the team is set up to give this senior class the send-off it deserves.

“I think they’re really hungry. That’s our goal – not only get in there this year, but see if we can’t win one and progress forward,” Worsham said. “Then we’ll set new goals from there and just see if we can get another win, but for now I think it’s to get to the playoffs, and see if we can get a playoff win. That would be awesome to see them get that to end their careers.”



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