Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Jan. 19, 2022

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Oliver keeps poise, Spudders keep hold on first place

Ridgefield holds on to beat River 3-2

By , Columbian High School Sports Reporter

Ridgefield softball pitcher Kaia Oliver cruised through the first six innings Wednesday against Columbia River and even after finding some trouble in the seventh, she kept her poise.

“Just gotta get an out and try to keep my focus,” Oliver said. “Can’t do anything about the past. What’s done is done.”

Then Oliver and the Spudders got it done.

Ridgefield held off the Chieftains 3-2 in a battle of league unbeatens in a Class 2A Greater St. Helens League game at VGSA.

The Spudders improved to 5-0 while the Chieftains fell to 3-1 — with a lot of games to be played after so many postponements this spring.

This game was not a sure thing, either. Moved from Ridgefield to River’s home field, the teams were relatively dry until a rain delay in the seventh inning.

At the time, Ridgefield led 3-0. Soon after the delay, things got interesting.

After a walk and a wild pitch put a Chieftain on second base, the Ridgefield defense went for a tough out instead of a sure out. Everybody was safe on the fielder’s choice, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.

Both Chieftains would eventually score, one on a delayed double steal and the other on a wild pitch.

Oliver, though, struck out the side to secure the win. She finished with 14 Ks in a two-hitter.

“This gives us confidence,” Oliver said.

“I feel like all our hard work in practice is paying off,” added Emma Jenkins, who had two hits and drove in a run for the Spudders.

There have not been too many league games, let alone big games, but this certainly was a big one in this league.

“I was ready to go. Obviously I got a little nervous before the game started, but I was really excited to get to play,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins hit a double in the bottom of the first to score Sarah Jenkins, who drew a lead-off walk. The Spudders were on their way.

In the third, the Spudders put together four consecutive two-out singles — Madison Syring, Emma Jenkins, Calli Martin, and Karli Oliver — to add two insurance runs.

“Two-out rally guys. Keep it going,” Emma Jenkins said. “You hit like any other at-bat. Just try to get a single. If a home run pops in there, that’s good too. But you’re just trying to get on base.”

“Do your job,” Kaia Oliver added.

The Spudders did just that Wednesday, and it helps in their pursuit of a long-term goal. They understand they have a long way to go just to remain in first place in the league, but they also can see themselves playing in the final week of the season in Selah.

“We want to get to state,” Emma Jenkins said.

“Oh yeah,” Kaia Oliver said. “To get there somehow.”

Columbian High School Sports Reporter