SPORTS BRIEFS: West Coast League playoffs underway

  • Peninsula Daily News 
  • Wednesday, August 9, 2023 1:30am
  • SportsLefties

PORTLAND, Ore. — The West Coast League’s playoffs opened Tuesday night with four divisional series games with Victoria and Bellingham two of the teams in the postseason.

For the second year, the WCL’s postseason includes eight teams, with four from the North and four from the South divisions. There are two Canadian, three Washington and three Oregon teams in the postseason.

In the South, the Ridgefield Raptors won the season’s first half and are matched against the Portland Pickles in the first round for a second straight year. The powerhouse Corvallis Knights, defending WCL champions aiming for their seventh straight title, surged to the second-half crown, going 22-5 and finishing with a 39-15 overall record. The Knights will face the Cowlitz Black Bears in the first round. This marks the Bears’ first postseason appearance since 2012.

In the North, the Kelowna Falcons host the Bellingham Bells, who finished atop the first-half standings, while the Wenatchee AppleSox host the second-half champion Victoria HarbourCats, who finished with a 38-15 overall record, tops in the North division. The HarbourCats also set a league record by finishing 25-2 at home.

After the best-of-three divisional playoffs, both the division and league championships will consist of just one game, with the higher-seeded teams hosting.

“It’s great to see original members Kelowna and Wenatchee back in the playoffs,” said Commissioner Rob Neyer. “Especially with their great fans guaranteed at least one home game. When we introduced the new postseason format last year, all we knew for sure was that we didn’t know anything for sure. But now we know that eight teams belong in the playoffs, and everyone’s in for a tremendous ride over this next week.”

Winners of the divisional series then face off in single division championship games, with the two winners then meeting in the WCL’s championship game, tentatively scheduled for next Monday night.

ACC eyes Cal, Stanford

Atlantic Coast Conference presidents and chancellors held a conference call Tuesday but took no action on West Coast expansion with California and Stanford, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league isn’t publicly revealing internal discussions regarding realignment.

The Pac-12 is down to four schools committed to the conference beyond the upcoming school year. This will be the last season in the Pac-12 for USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington, which are all headed for the Big Ten in 2024. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will join the Big 12 next year.

The new Big Ten setup means athletes will be routinely crossing multiple time zones to compete.

The ACC, which has 14 schools — but none farther west than Louisville — had interest in the Pac-12 before the conference splintered last week. Stanford and Cal, two of the country’s most prestigious academic schools, would fit the profile of traditional ACC schools such as Duke, North Carolina and Virginia.

Without another Power Five conference option, routinely traveling cross-country to compete might be the best alternative for Stanford and California.

A deal with the ACC would leave just Washington State and Oregon State as Pac-12 members beyond the 2023-24 school year, and increase the likelihood that the Pac-12 simply goes out of business.

Both the Mountain West, which includes Boise State, UNLV, San Diego State and Fresno State, and the American Athletic Conference, which has SMU, Memphis and Tulane, have interest in adding those schools.

Georgia fires staffer

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia has fired the football recruiting staffer who survived a January crash that killed player Devin Willock and another recruiting staffer, less than a month after she filed a lawsuit against the university’s athletic association.

The school issued a statement saying Victoria “Tori” Bowles was dismissed because she refused to cooperate with an internal investigation into the crash. Her attorneys claim she is being retaliated against for filing the lawsuit, which also names former Georgia player and first-round NFL draft pick Jalen Carter.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported Bowles’ firing.

The Jan. 15 crash, which occurred just hours after a parade celebrating Georgia’s second straight national championship, killed the 20-year-old Willock and the driver of the Ford Expedition, 24-year-old Chandler LeCroy.

Police said LeCroy had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit and was racing Carter at about 104 mph when the SUV swerved off the road, struck two utility poles and a tree before slamming into another tree on the driver’s side, where both LeCroy and Willock were sitting.

Another Georgia player, Warren McClendon, sustained only minor injuries. But Bowles, who was sitting in the backseat next to Willock, sustained serious injuries including lumbar and rib fractures, a spinal cord injury and lacerations to the kidney and liver, her lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit requests at least $171,595 in general damages along with punitive damages.

Bowles was on paid medical leave for a couple of months following the crash, before the athletic association placed her on unpaid leave in March, according to records obtained by the Journal-Constitution.

Rob Buck, an attorney representing Bowles in her lawsuit, said the university has engaged in a “campaign of intimidation” against his client, whose job paid less than $12,000 a year.

“Tory, like all other perceived liabilities to the football program, became expendable to UGA, and despite her loyalty and meager salary, has been steamrolled,” he said.

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