SELAH – After a stunning rally to reach the championship game, Ridgefield softball had a freshly minted season highlight Saturday at the Class 2A state tournament.
But after falling in the title game to North Kitsap, 8-1, Ridgefield’s players weren’t cherishing their semifinal triumph or even the state tournament most when asked to reflect on the season.
“It’s not even the softball part, it’s these friendships,” Ridgefield senior Madison Walker said. “Every game is exciting. But most of all I’ll look back and see the true people I’ve played against and the amazing ballplayers they are.”
Ridgefield wrapped up the second most-successful season in program history with a second-place finish. Only the 2004 state championship team has finished higher.
For three of the four games at Carlon Park, Ridgefield’s hitting was unstoppable. That was the case in a 13-7 win over Aberdeen in the semifinals, where the Spudders rallied from a 7-1 hole after the first inning.
But a Ridgefield offense that entered the final game averaging 16 hits was put on ice by North Kitsap. Pitcher Reese Andersen allowed four hits and was backed by a flawless defense that made several difficult plays on hard-hit balls.
The top-seeded Vikings hit four home runs, icing the game with back-to-back blasts in a three run seventh inning to complete an undefeated season.
The No. 3 seed Spudders finish the season 23-5 with plenty of memories on the field and off.
“I think everyone all strived for the same goals and had the same work ethic,” shortstop Mallory Vancleave said. “We were all there for each other and everyone was playing as a team. Our energy pushed us through.”
Vancleave, a junior, will be a leader on next year’s team that should be well-positioned to contend for a state title. The Spudders graduate just four players, but those seniors (Walker, Maizy Whitlow, Madeline Smith and Makayla Ferguson) have left a legacy.
“The seniors this year have set the bar really high,” Vancleave said. “We’re excited to compete and push ourselves as far as we can from what we accomplished this year.”
RIDGEFIELD 13, ABERDEEN 7 – Not many teams could rally from a six-run deficit after one inning at the state championships.
Not many teams are Ridgefield.
Ridgefield had enough power to beat Aberdeen in the semifinals despite trailing 7-1 after the first inning.
Smith homered twice, including a solo shot in the fifth inning that put Ridgefield ahead 8-7. She went 4 for 5 and finished 11 for 15 in the state tournament.
Vancleave went 4 for 5 with four RBI, including a two-run home run in the second inning that kick-started Ridgefield’s comeback.
“It’s just that we all ball,” Ridgefield pitcher Elizabeth Peery said. “One through nine, it’s a full lineup of hitters. Defense wise, I know they have my back. I can let up seven runs and they’ll be there to get the last three outs.”
Peery, whose solo home run tied the game in the fifth, settled down after a disastrous first inning. Aberdeen sent 11 hitters to the plate and had six hits, including a three-run home run by Shyanna Patrick.
Peery proceeded to not allow another run, retiring 16 of the last 19 batters she faced.
“I just stick to my game,” Peery said. “If I let up seven runs, I know they’re going to hit the ball.”
NORTH KITSAP 8, RIDGEGFIELD 1
North Kitsap 021 002 3—8 10 0
Ridgefield 010 000 0—1 4 1
Pitching – Elizabeth Peery 7 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 3 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Madison Walker 1-3; Makayla Ferguson 1-3, R, RBI, HR; Madeline Smith 1-2, 2B; Charlie Harris 1-2.
RIDGEFIELD 13, ABERDEEN 7
Ridgefield 132 024 1—13 14 0
Aberdeen 700 000 0—7 11 2
Pitching – Elizabeth Perry 7 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 1 K, 2 BB; Highlights – Mallory Vancleave 4-5, 2 R, 4 RBI, HR; Madison Walker 1-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B; Elizabeth Peery 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B; Madeline Smith 4-5, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR; Charlie Harris 1-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B; Tava Whitlow 1-4, R.