RIDGEFIELD — The Ridgefield softball team had figuratively just been punched in the mouth.
The Spudders responded with a knockout blow.
Ridgefield beat Columbia River 15-5 on Saturday, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the fifth to trigger the 10-run mercy rule.
The Spudders wrapped up their third outright or shared league title since 2017 by winning a battle of the 2A Greater St. Helens League’s lone unbeaten teams.
Ridgefield (13-1, 8-0) appeared to be cruising, leading 6-0 and allowing just two hits through four innings.
But then the Rapids (12-2, 7-1) scored five runs in the fifth, thanks in part to a two-run home run by Jaycee Williams and an RBI double by Madelaine DeBarber.
But Ridgefield wasn’t rattled.
“We’re definitely scrappy,” outfielder Natalie Smith said. “We’re not going to let that one inning affect us.”
In the fifth, Smith tripled and then ended the game with an RBI single. She was one of 14 batters in that inning, in which the Spudders had nine hits.
The rally was ignited by Makayla Ferguson’s three-run home run, which put Ridgefield up 9-5 with nobody out.
“That was my first home run, so I didn’t know if it was actually going over,” Ferguson said. “I like to go in with the mindset of stand up straight, just hit the ball and what will happen will happen.”
What has happened this season is Ridgefield has scored a lot of runs. The Spudders are averaging 14.1 runs per game and have had no fewer than 12 in their past 12 games.
“It’s the mindset of ‘we can do this,’ ” Ferguson said. “It’s a lot of confidence It’s a lot of talent.”
Even more remarkable is that six of Ridgefield’s nine starters are sophomores or freshmen. But seeing those young players succeed is no surprise to Smith, a senior.
“They’re a really good group of kids,” Smith said. “I’m so happy we got the opportunity to play this year. They’re the future and they’re only going to keep going up from here.”
Ridgefield and River both have byes in the first round of the district tournament, which starts Monday.
Tuesday, Ridgefield will host the Mark Morris-Woodland winner while River will face the R.A. Long-Washougal winner.
District semifinal and championship games are set for Thursday at Recreation Park in Chehalis.
RIDGEFIELD 15, COLUMBIA RIVER 5
Col.River 000 05—5 6 2
Ridgefield 230 19—15 15 0
Pitching — Taylor McRae 4.1 IP, K, 2 BB; Fallon Wiley 0.1 IP. Highlights — Gabriela Ventura 1-3, RBI; Halle Jordan 1-3, R, RBI; Jaycee Williams 1-3, R, 2 RBI, HR; Sophia Reyes 1-2; Allison Countryman 1-3; Madelaine DeBarber 1-2, R, RBI.
Pitching — Madeline Smith 4.1 IP, 2 K, BB, W; Maizy Whitlow 0.2 IP. Highlights — Mallory Vancleave 1-3, 2 R, RBI; Madison Walker 3-4, 4 R, 2B; Lily Mittmann 4-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, 3B; Kekai Schultz 1-3, R, 2 RBI, 2B; Elizabeth Peery 2-3, 2 R, RBI; Maizy Whitlow 1-3, R; Makayla Ferguson 2-4, R, 4 RBI, HR; Natalie Smith 2-3, R, 3B.