Cougar coach likes Bears' chances against Braves

Steve Gerace
Weed Cougar head coach Josh Oates encourages his players during the first game of a doubleheader April 15, 2011 at Son's Park in Weed. The Cougars lost 17-0 then beat the Bears for the first time in more than a dozen years 4-3 in game two.

Rivalries being what they are, you might not expect a Weed High School coach to endorse a Mount Shasta team that is preparing for a key doubleheader that could determine the league championship.

But that’s just what Cougar baseball head coach Josh Oates did Wednesday morning in an email reply to the south county sports desk.

Oates, whose Cougar team lost a snow/hail delayed game to Modoc in Alturas on April 29, said he believes Mount Shasta (5-3 in the Shasta Cascade League) can sweep the Braves (5-2) when the two teams hook up May 6 on the Bears’ home field.

“Modoc is beatable,”?according to Oates. “If the Bears’ bats are keyed in and players stay within themselves and look to hit the ball the other way rather than pull off of Modoc's pitcher, I have no doubt that Mt. Shasta can easily sweep by the Braves. But if the Bears’ hitters fall into the Modoc pitchers’ trap, the games will be tight. I still maintain that Mt. Shasta is the most talented team in the league by a fairly large margin.”

The Cougars, who got their only SCL win so far this season against Mount Shasta, were locked up in a scoreless game at Modoc through 5 innings, but eventually lost, 7-0.

Oates said freshman Aidan Hagarty “was pitching excellent for us, then in the top of the 6th, the weather started to take a turn, then really hammered down in the bottom of the sixth when Aidan was faced with runners on 1st and 3rd no outs.”

At that point the weather forced a 25 minute delay during which Modoc players climbed into their trucks to stay warm while the Cougars “huddled in the dugout because the bus was at the softball field picking up the girls,” Oates said.

When the game resumed, things changed. “We lost two flyballs in the falling snow that cost us 4 runs,”?Oates said. “The umpire in the field even said he couldn’t see the ball coming off the bat. It was a sad way to end what could have been a great game for us.”

Attempts to start game two in the nasty weather didn’t get far, and it was called in the bottom of the first inning with the score tied 1-1.

“Just another hit from the weather in what has been the worst season for baseball, as far as weather goes, that I have ever experienced,”?said Oates. “We have gone through a stretch of 4 games in 4 weeks. That really affects the morale of the players and doesn't help us on the field. The players have kept their heads up and show up everyday and compete, but the weather has definitely been a huge downer this spring.”

The Cougars did play a JV doubleheader and split with Mount Shasta. They’re scheduled to play two non-league games this Thursday, May 5, in Dunsmuir, then two SCL?games at home  Friday against Burney. If necessary they’ll make up the game against Modoc next Monday in Alturas.

That game will be necessary to sort out the league championship if Mount Shasta beats Modoc once or twice and/or if Fall River (5-3) sweeps Etna (4-4).

Oates’ attitude going into the final week of the Cougars’ season is, “hopefully we can win them all.”