No shortage of cover stories

Commentary: Paul Valencia

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Most of the time, if a Major League Baseball player throws a perfect game, it is front-page news in our Sports section.

Sorry, Roy Halladay, not this weekend.

In a whirlwind of a finish to the high school spring sports season, Friday and Saturday were the final days of competition in baseball, softball, boys soccer, track and field, and tennis. And because of this, we chose to make them all-high school sports front pages on Saturday and Sunday.

We know that many of our readers do not follow high school sports, but we appreciate their understanding of these specials days. They don’t happen often, but we feel local, local, local is the way to go, especially involving local championship games, matches, and meets.

Back in 1989, two Clark County teams won state baseball championships on the same day. This year, two Clark County teams squared off in an epic semifinal game Friday, an 11-inning thriller that catapulted Camas to the title game for the first time in school history. The Papermakers lost in Saturday’s championship game in Seattle, but when all was said and done, it was a great run.

The Heritage softball team also made school history with a marathon of a Saturday in Tacoma. Because Friday’s rainout, the Timberwolves had to play four games on Saturday. They won the first three to advance to the championship game, then lost in extra innings to the defending state champion, and league foe, Kelso. The final game ended close to 10:30 p.m., and we got it in the next day’s paper.

A couple miles south of the softball complex, the Columbia River girls track and field team tied for a state championship.

All three of those stories made our cover. Plus, we had three more pages inside dedicated to high school sports.

Generally, our Sports section will touch on the national stories on the cover, and certainly in the spring, the Mariners get plenty of coverage. But for the final weekend in May, high school sports is king.

With that said, we cannot please everyone. Some wondered why we picked Camas on the front page of Sunday’s paper, even though the team lost the baseball title while we had a couple of boys win individual titles in track and field.

There is no exact science on this, but the general rule is a team playing for a championship — win or lose — it is a bigger story than an individual result. The logic is more people are affected by a team of 16 players, for example, than an individual.

Plus, for this particular day, our editors deemed that Columbia River’s girls team title was the story of the day from track and field. And that was on the cover.

The Woodland softball team won the Class 2A state championship in Selah. We cannot be everywhere at once, and we did not send a reporter to Selah. Instead, our editors contacted our friends at the Longview Daily News for their story. It ran, with a big headline, across an inside page.

There is no perfect way to cover all of these events. But we will continue to use everyone we’ve got — reporters, copy editors, editors, freelancers, other newspapers — to get as much as we can in your newspaper.

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Here is a shout-out to the WIAA for the way the Class 4A and 3A softball tournaments were conducted. A reminder: Both tourneys were cut from two days to one because of the rain. In all, 23 of the originally 28 games in each tournament were played.

Sure, there were some grumbling. Some wanted the full tournament, even if it meant coming back on Monday. (At least one 3A school did not give the OK to play on Sunday, so that tournament could not have resumed Sunday. The 4A tournament, we were told, could have resumed Sunday.)

However, the WIAA has to think about costs, as well. Schools from outside of the Tacoma area had been there since Thursday night, and another day or two in hotels can smack a school’s budget in a hurry.

The solution was to schedule the 23 games in each tourney, hope for no rain, and if it did get done Saturday night, there would be a champion, a second-place finisher, and six third-place ties — the semifinal losers and the four remaining teams in the consolation round.

Again, not perfect, not exactly what everyone was hoping for, but every team did get to play at least two games — like a normal tournament.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at paul.valencia@columbian.com.