Oliver, freshman power Ridgefield to state softball berth

Both players homer in 10-5 win over Tumwater

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter

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LONGVIEW — The Ridgefield softball team used the long ball Thursday evening to ensure a long road trip.

Kaia Oliver hit two home runs and Mia Tomillo hit one, leading the Spudders to a 10-5 victory over Tumwater in a Class 2A District 4 semifinal at 7th Avenue Park in Longview.

The Spudders will take on W.F. West of Chehalis for the district crown Friday evening, but no matter what happens in that game, they will be going to Selah for the Class 2A state tournament.

Ridgefield went 2-0 on the first day of the tournament. Columbia River, meanwhile, won its first game but lost the second. Hockinson dropped its first contest but survived a loser-out game in the consolation bracket. Woodland went 0-2 and is out of the tourney.

Columbia River and Hockkinson will play in a third-place semifinal Friday. The winner of that game would then play for the district’s final berth to state.

Ridgefield no longer has any pressure. The Spudders, who beat Black Hills of Tumwater 9-1 in the first game, are in.

Oliver, who hit her first varsity home run just a week ago, had a two-run shot and a three-run bomb against Tumwater.

Tomillo wasn’t even on varsity a week ago.

“It’s crazy. It’s insane,” she said. “I’m a freshman. I was just so happy I could come for the ride with varsity.”

The call-up to the big squad was more than just to watch from the dugout. She got her first start in the semifinal, her first varsity at-bats.

“I can’t. I don’t have any words. I have no words. I have no idea how to explain it,” she said.

Tomillo moved to Ridgefield from Rhode Island four months ago. Now she is going to state with the Spudders.

Oliver, an ace pitcher and now power hitter, said it’s an honor to be part of the first Ridgefield team to make it to state since 2011. She credited new coach Dusty Anchors.

“He definitely built our team. We have more ambition,” Oliver said.

Anchors said he preaches positivity.

“Just to believe in themselves. Flat-out, believe in themselves,” he said of the key to changing the Spudders from a good team to a state team. “They had to believe they are a good ball club.

“This is the new Ridgefield way of softball. Battle every single game and the girls just believing that.”

Still, it was hard for Oliver to believe the day she had at the plate.

“I was not expecting two at all,” she said. “My teammates pushing me at practice is definitely paying off.”

Emma Jenkins had two hits and drove in three runs for the Spudders in the opener. Karli Oliver drove in two runs. Kaia Oliver and Sarah Jenkins combined to strike out 13 batters.

Emma Klundt struck out 12 in Columbia River’s 3-0 opening round victory over Rochester. Cassie Grigg had three hits, including a double, and drove in two runs for the Chieftains.

W.F. West, though, scored seven runs in the first inning of that semifinal, cruising to an 11-1 victory.

That sent River into a matchup with Hockinson.

The Hawks fell to Tumwater 7-2 in the opener but responded with a 2-0 victory over Black Hills.

Woodland lost to W.F. West 14-0 in the opener, then dropped a 9-6 decision to Rochester in the consolation bracket.

The third-place semifinals will be at 4 p.m. Friday with the winners taking on each other at 6:15 p.m.

The championship game is set for 6 p.m.