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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Sweyer’s early homer is all Woodland, Grey need

By , Columbian sports reporter
14 Photos
Woodland's Payten Foster touches home plate as her team swarms her Friday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Woodland's Payten Foster touches home plate as her team swarms her Friday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. (Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — When Woodland softball puts a run on the board early, the Beavers feel awfully good about their chances. Ace Olivia Grey has gone 76 innings this season without giving up an earned run. So it became almost a certainty the Beavers would wrap up their 21st straight win after Kelly Sweyer smacked a two-run home run in the first inning. Woodland went on to top Ridgefield 5-0 Friday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. The victory gives the Beavers a two-game advantage over the rest of the league and likely outright 2A Greater St. Helens League title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment and we’re all so proud of each other,” Sweyer said. “It’s just a good feeling.”

Last season, the Beavers shared the league crown with the Spudders before going on to win the 2A state title. Woodland has rattled off a 15-0 record (9-0 2A GSHL) to follow up that championship and hasn’t lost since May 17, 2018 — a 10-5 district defeat to W.F. West.

“This group could have came out this year and gone through the motions,” Woodland coach Tom Christensen said. “But this whole season, they’ve kept pushing and kept getting better.”

Grey struck out 12 batters and allowed just one hit Friday. She now has 181 strikeouts through 76 innings, allowing just 14 hits in the process.

The Beavers’ offense tallied five hits, including two-strike home runs by Sweyer and Payten Foster. Foster also doubled home a run in the sixth inning and made a diving catch in right field in the seventh.

“I was swinging at whatever I could,” Foster said of the two-strike approach that led to her ball clearing the center-field fence. “Mine was inside, and I just knew I got it.”

Ridgefield’s Kaia Oliver struck out six and allowed just one walk for the Spudders (13-4, 7-2). Sarah Jenkins broke up Grey’s no-hit bid in the sixth inning with a slicing single down the third-base line. The Spudders finish the year with a three-game road trip, starting with Columbia River on Monday.

Woodland will try to continue its win streak in a quest for another state title when it takes on R.A. Long Monday at home.

Despite the raised expectations that has accompanied the sustained success, the Beavers haven’t changed their mindset. It’s still a carefree dugout that likes to goof off before taking care of business.

“We joke around a lot; we have short practices; I try to give them a day off every now and then,” Christensen said. “We’re really talented so it’s just a matter of staying sharp and showing up every day and not going through the motions.”

Columbian sports reporter