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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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All-Region slowpitch softball: Victoria Ross, Union

Sophomore was in middle of action pitching and hitting

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

There’s more to pitching in slowpitch softball than just lobbing the ball to get whacked.

“There are different spins you can put on the ball and different arcs that you can throw that will change the batter’s perception,” said Union sophomore Victoria Ross. “It’s all about changing the batter’s timing.”

Ross pitched every inning but two for the Titans. And whether is was with her bat or pitching, Ross found herself right in the middle of the action in a season that saw Union reach the 4A state championship game.

And for that, Ross has been selected The Columbian’s All-Region slowpitch softball player of the year.

“When I played slowpitch last year, it was just as a way to stay sharp for the fastpitch season,” Ross said. “But this year, I just realized how much fun it was and how the team was just like a family and the bond we made through the season.”

That bond was the key to Union’s success and it led to Ross being selected the 4A Greater St. Helens League player of the year in leading the Titans to the district title.

“There was never any drama on the slowpitch team,” Ross said. “It’s just so loving that you wanted to put all your heart on the field. You never worried about what people were saying, because they just always had your back.”

On offense, Ross had a .532 on-base percentage with nine doubles, 25 RBI and 22 runs scored, just another key cog in the Titans’ potent offense.

“Our coach always told us to keep a basehit mentality,” Ross said. “Because if you go up there to hit a home run, it’s just never going to happen.

“You have to string hits together, because the person in front of you will do their best to get on base, and the person behind you is going to do it, too. When we did that, that’s when we played our best.”

And that trust fueled the defense, as Ross worked with her infielders to get balls hit into a favorable position.

“In practice, we’d always run drills where the middle infielders are always talking,” Ross said. “They would say ‘Hey, Tori, I got you at second base for a double-play up the middle. Then during the game, we could turn that into a play, and I just always knew that they were ready for that.”

After a bumpy start, the Titans ran off 16 straight wins before falling to Chiawana in the state title game to finish 17-4. In 11 of those wins, Union held opponents to three or fewer runs, with Ross playing a pivotal role in that.

Ross hopes that the success Union has enjoyed in slowpitch will carry over to fastpitch in the spring.

“I’m hoping to grow a stronger bond with my teammates,” Ross said. “Because they’re not just my teammates, they’re my family. They’re like my sisters, and I can always rely on them, whether it’s on the field, or in school, or just on the weekends, if you want to go hang out.”

Rest of the All-Region Team

Ella Berfanger, Union: The senior hit .623 with with a team-high 39 RBI, leading the Titans to the 4A state title game.

Delaney Bollman, Evergreen: The senior batted .575 with seven home runs, 42 RBI and 33 runs scored.

Nivayah Henry, Skyview: The sophomore batted .533 with six doubles, four home runs, 36 RBI and 27 runs scored.

Taylor Lies, Skyview: The sophomore batted .500 with eight doubles, three home runs, 21 RBI and 24 runs scored.

Lily Mattison, R.A. Long: The senior batted .584 with nine doubles, four triples, 47 runs scored and had 15 outfield assists.

Natalie Mejia, Mark Morris: The senior batted .648 with five doubles, five triples, six home runs, 30 RBI and 27 runs scored.

Ava Rodman, R.A. Long: The senior batted .656 with six home runs, 33 RBI and 32 runs scored in just 14 games.

Chloe Shove, Evergreen: The junior batted .547 with four doubles, four home runs, 32 RBI and 19 runs scored.

Sophia Tumelty, Union: The sophomore batted .557 with 10 doubles and 32 runs scored for the district champions.

Mia Yanez, Columbia River: The senior hit .563 with five doubles, 25 RBI, 31 runs scored while playing shortstop for the Rapids.

Aurora Wiley, Columbia River: The 3A/2A player of the year hit .708 with 14 doubles, 15 home runs and 56 RBI.