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Southridge has won 10 of its last 11 Metro League games before the Class 6A playoffs

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge senior righty Cam Carlson threw another shutout against Aloha last week.

As the temperatures rise and the climate becomes more dependable, the Southridge baseball team seems to catch fire.

Toward the tail end of the season the past two years, the Skyhawks have played their best, closing out their Metro League campaigns on extended win streaks that have clinched postseason bids and sent Southridge into the playoffs with all sorts of swagger.

A year ago, fighting for their second season lives, Southridge exploded, winning seven of its final eight games to make the show. This spring has been even better. The Skyhawks have won 10 of their last 11 Metro matchups, sweeping Mountainside and Aloha while taking two of three from Beaverton to earn sole possession of second place in the conference standings.

With two of the state's most consistent starters in Cameron Carlson and Riley O'Connell and a lineup chock-full of potentially pyrotechnic bats such as Michael Ball, Spencer Stevens and Zach Hald, the Skyhawks are one of those teams you don't want to face in an elimination setting. Ranked 20th in the Class 6A power rankings at the moment, Southridge (17-7 overall, 12-4 in Metro) feels like a squad that could pull off a pair of upsets and finds itself further in the bracket than its seed would indicate.

"We're playing with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder," Ball said. "We just want to keep the momentum going. We want to go deep. We've had three years in a row of first-round exits. We want to deeper and win a state title."

Ball said Southridge's correlation between finishing out the season strong stems from getting in three games a week on a regular basis because of better weather. And with the rain staying away, the Skyhawks can mix in two or three practices on the grass to stay sharp in all phases of the game. Baseball is a game where rhythm is paramount. As the routine stays consistent, Southridge's productivity and potency skyrockets.

"We really start melding toward the end of the season once we have enough games under our belt," Ball said. "We know what guys need to work on and start making adjustments. Stuff starts coming together."

Carlson finished off the Warrior sweep on May 9, pitching a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits while striking out four and walking one in a 7-0 win. Southridge racked up 12 hits with Ball, Hald, Darik Salinas, Josh Calo and Joe Brown all picking up two base knocks apiece. Brown and Hald both had two RBIs.

"It's been fun," Ball said with a smile. "We're making our plays and hitting the ball hard. It's not always falling, but when you consistently hit the ball hard, good things happen."

Southridge's series finale with Westview will undoubtedly be a battle. If the Skyhawks take the series or sweep, it would greatly help their standing in the 6A power rankings and rightfully shoot them up the ranks. Regardless, Southridge is going to be a tough out for whatever playoff foe it faces, no matter the setting or stature of the opponent.

"We can compete with anybody, I really believe that," Carlson said. "We're getting a lot of line drives. We have a lot of momentum and we're feeling really good."

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