GLIDE — Cory Finlay, Tanner Shaddy and Joe Hanson will play their final games for the Glide baseball team on Friday, hoping to bring the school its third state championship in the sport.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats (24-3) will meet No. 2 Cascade Christian (23-5) in the Class 3A final at 5 p.m. at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.
Finlay, Shaddy and Hanson — the team’s three seniors — are stoked about the opportunity.
“It’s awesome (playing in the championship game). It’s always been a dream of mine since middle school,” said Shaddy. “We’re definitely ready for this game.”
“After we beat Valley Catholic (3-0 Tuesday in Beaverton) and were coming home down the freeway, it started to set in,” Hanson said. “We’re really excited about it. All that hard work we’ve put in has paid off.”
“This is amazing. I can’t even explain it,” added Finlay. “This is the best way for us (seniors) to go out. It’s great that we get to enjoy this ride together.”
Finlay, Shaddy and Hanson are all starters and have supplied leadership roles for the Wildcats this season.
Finlay, the fastest player on the team, is a four-year letterman and was a first-team all-state selection last year. He plays shortstop and bats third in the order. Through the regular season, he hit .589 with 12 doubles, seven triples, two home runs, 30 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
“Cory is a multi-faceted baseball player,” said Glide coach Al Skinner. “He can play any position for us. He might be one of the top five catchers in the state, and caught for us last year in the playoffs.”
Shaddy, who played at Roseburg as a sophomore, mostly alternates between first base and the outfield depending on who’s pitching. He bats second in the order and hit .468 with 10 doubles and 22 RBIs during the regular season.
Shaddy was a third-team all-state outfielder as a junior.
“Tanner is an invaluable part of our whole success,” Skinner said. “He moves around to key positions in the lineup when pitching changes occur and is a true utility player in every sense of the word. He has done a great job for us in the No. 2 hole … he’s very unselfish and is willing to put down bunts when we need him to.”
Hanson is in his first year as a starter, and plays in right field and bats No. 9 in the order. He hit .316.
“Joe is one every coach in the U.S. would want one of,” Skinner said. “He’s not the most talented kid, but one of the most competitive and loyal and as big of a teammate as you could find. He hustles everywhere on the field. He earned a spot as a senior and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Finlay will continue his baseball career at Chemeketa Community College in Salem in the fall. Shaddy will also attend Chemeketa, but isn’t planning to play baseball at this time. Hanson is headed to Umpqua Community College.
Glide and Cascade Christian will square off for the third time Friday after splitting a pair of nonleague games during the regular season. There were only three runs scored in those two contests — a 2-0 Challengers win in Medford and a 1-0 victory in 10 innings by the Wildcats in Glide.
“They know us, we know them,” Skinner said. “Both teams are evenly-matched and I’m expecting another close game.”
“If the top of our order hits well, we have a good chance of putting up some runs,” Hanson said. “We haven’t played as well as we can against them, but if we come out like we did against Valley Catholic we should be better.”
Other top hitters for Glide include junior second baseman Devin Freeman (.459, 26 walks, 14 hit by pitches, .667 on-base percentage), junior center fielder/pitcher Tylan DuBois (.507, eight doubles, three homers, 38 RBIs), sophomore third baseman Bryson Belloir (.329) and junior pitcher/first baseman Jacob Fricke (.353, seven doubles).
DuBois (9-1, 2.55) is the likely starter on the mound against the Challengers. The junior left-hander pitched a complete game in a 6-3 win over Harrisburg in the quarterfinals, striking out eight and walking one.
Glide is seeking its first state title since 2006, when the Wildcats won the 2A/1A championship with a 3-2 victory over Lakeview.
• You can reach Sports Editor Tom Eggers at 541-957-4220 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the best way for us (seniors) to go out.