CHEHALIS – For all of Ridgefield softball’s recent success, one prize has eluded the Spudders.
Despite five outright or shared league titles and just as many state tournament berths since 2017, Ridgefield hadn’t captured a district championship.
Ridgefield beat Centralia 5-2 in the District 4 title game at Recreation Park, capturing its first district championship since 2004.
Now, the Spudders head to Class 2A state tournament with a portfolio as rich as any of the 16 teams that will be in Selah next week.
Ridgefield (20-4) has not lost to any 2A team this season. The Spudders scored district tournament wins against defending state champion Tumwater and W.F. West, which placed third in state.
“It means a lot coming up short the last two years with (pitcher Elizabeth Peery) alongside me,” senior catcher McKayla Ferguson said. “So I’m just excited to finally get that goal. We’re getting there one step at a time. We’re off to state. Let’s go.”
Friday, Ridgefield showed it can win using all facets of its game.
Ferguson homered and the last half of the Spudders batting order powered the offense. Ferguson, the sixth hitter in the lineup, No. 8 hitter Charlie Harris and No. 9 hitter Tava Whitlow accounted for all seven of Ridgefield’s base hits.
Peery made key pitches when it counted, stranding two runners in the fifth and sixth innings. Centralia (13-8) had runners reach base in five of seven innings.
“Honestly when she has more pressure on her she does better,” Ferguson said. “She really paints those corners well and I’m really proud of her.”
Perhaps most importantly, Ridgefield defense was not just error-free but made key plays to snuff out potential rallies.
Second baseman Kaylen Wingerd turned an unassisted double play when she snagged a line drive and doubled a runner off second to end a threat in the second inning.
With two outs in the fifth, third baseman Madison Walker knocked down a sharp one-hop grounder and threw out Centralia’s runner at first, stranding two runners.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t have my defense,” Peery said. “They mean the world to me, just knowing they have my back. The entire infield and outfield, they’re always telling me ‘we’ve got you.’ If I give up a hit, they’re like we’ve got the next one.”
After scoring two unearned runs in the third, Ridgefield took a 4-0 lead in the fourth when Harris and Whitlow had back-to-back RBI singles.
Ferguson put Ridgefield ahead 5-0 when she led off the sixth inning with a blast over the left field fence.
Centralia bounced back in the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back RBI singles with two outs. But Peery ended the threat with her fourth strikeout, which she followed with a yell toward her dugout.
R.A. LONG 1, TUMWATER 0 – Jadyn Terry pitched the Lumberjills to their first state tournament berth since 2016 in a loser-out game Friday.
Madison Fierst scored the game’s only run on an error in the bottom of the first. That was enough for Terry, who allowed two hits and one walk, striking out 12.
Tumwater got runners to second and third with two outs in the seventh, but Terry got a strikeout to end the game and end the season for the defending state champion Thunderbirds.
RIDGEFIELD 5, CENTRALIA 2
Ridgefield 002 201 0—5 7 0
Centralia 000 002 0—2 9 1
Pitching – Elizabeth Peery 7 IP, 9 H, 2 ER 4 K, 0 BB; Highlights – Makayla Ferguson 2-4, R, RBI, HR; Charlie Harris 3-3, R, RBI; Tava Whitlow 2-3, R, RBI.
Pitching – Peyton Smith 3.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 2 BB; Hollyn Wakefield 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 K, 2 BB; Highlights – Gracie Shofield 1-4, R; Jimena Luis 1-3; Makayla Chavez 2-3, RBI; Payton Baumel 2-3, RBILiliana Babka 2-3; Chloe Bonomi 1-1.
R.A. LONG 1, TUMWATER 0
Tumwater 000 000 0–0 2 2
R.A. Long 100 000 0—1 2 4
Pitching – Ella Ferguson 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R 0 ER, 8 K, 0 BB; Highlights – Zoe Fields 1-3; Jaime Hasse 1-3.
Pitching – Jadyn Terry 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 12 K, 1 BB; Highlights – Madison Fierst 1-2, R; Ava Rodman 1-2.