Raptors ready for season opener

Dominic Enbody, who played for the Raptors in 2019, is back as baseball makes its comeback in Ridgefield

RIDGEFIELD — When baseball games are being played everyday, it is another sign that everyday life is making a comeback, too.

Opening Day has arrived.

The Ridgefield Raptors expect hundreds of fans to be at the park tonight for the season opener. The team played to a packed house, shown here, when the franchise started in 2019. This year, there will be sections for vaccinated fans and sections for those who are not, as well as other protocols in place. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Ridgefield Raptors expect hundreds of fans to be at the park tonight for the season opener. The team played to a packed house, shown here, when the franchise started in 2019. This year, there will be sections for vaccinated fans and sections for those who are not, as well as other protocols in place. Photo by Mike Schultz

A year later, but perhaps more welcome than ever.

The Ridgefield Raptors are back. 

Dominic Enbody is back, as well. An original Raptor, he was the first player in team history to hit a home run when he crushed one at the 2019 opener at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

The Raptors will take on their Southwest Washington rival Cowlitz Black Bears in the first game of the season Wednesday at The RORC. First pitch is 6:35 p.m., and tickets are still available as of Wednesday morning. 

(For tickets, go to https://ridgefieldraptors.com/ or buy tickets at the stadium.)

Oh, as far as capacity, and seating rules and regulations? Those protocols seem to change weekly in this state now. Gus Farah, the team’s general manager, said there will be sections for those who are vaccinated, sections for those who have not been vaccinated, and he is confident the team can welcome more than 750 fans.

In theory, he said, the team could probably get around 1,400 and still be in compliance. But fans should expect more spacing, and the team is asking for patience as everyone tries to get back together at the ballpark after a year’s absence.

Enbody is thrilled to be returning to Ridgefield. His journey since the team’s inaugural season has been bizarre, even by pandemic standards. Before the government shut down just about everything after COVID-19 hit America, Enbody’s college shut down. As in closed. For good. 

Dominic Enbody, who hit the first home run in Raptors history in 2019, says he cannot remember running the bases. Photo by Mike Schultz
Dominic Enbody, who hit the first home run in Raptors history in 2019, says he cannot remember running the bases. Photo by Mike Schultz

He was playing baseball at Concordia in Portland when the university announced it was closing.

“It’s been crazy, to say the least,” Enbody said.

Dominic Enbody of the University of Antelope Valley is back for his second stint with the Ridgefield Raptors. He said playing in front of Ridgefield crowds was a highlight of his career. He is an original Raptor. Photo by Paul Valencia
Dominic Enbody of the University of Antelope Valley is back for his second stint with the Ridgefield Raptors. He said playing in front of Ridgefield crowds was a highlight of his career. He is an original Raptor. Photo by Paul Valencia

All was fine in 2019, though. The RORC was packed as the Raptors played their first game. Then Enbody got a hold of one, sending the ball over the fence for the historic first home run in franchise history.

“I had never played in front of that many people,” said Enbody, who grew up in Hubbard, Ore., and went to Wilsonville High School. “I don’t even remember running around the bases. I just know it was a cool feeling.

“Looking back on all my baseball experiences, my summer here is at the top of my list,” he added. “The fans are crazy. The atmosphere … I hope we get to see as many fans as we can this summer. That was one of the highlights of my career, to play in front of those fans in this beautiful stadium.”

From summer ball back to college ball at Concordia. 

Only, Concordian did not make it through the academic year. There was no more college. No more college baseball team, of course. And soon, the pandemic hit and there would be no summer baseball.

The West Coast League, like so many other sports leagues, shut down, too. That gave Enbody more time to figure out his future. He found a school, and a team, in southern California. 

Enbody enrolled at the University of Antelope Valley in Lancaster, but he remained in the Northwest, taking online classes until February of 2021, when he knew there would be a college season.

Now, he’s back in the WCL, a wood-bat league for baseball players with college eligibility. Enbody was considered a junior this past season at Antelope Valley.

He is looking forward to his final season with the Raptors.

“We just want to enjoy the atmosphere, and this is one of the best baseball atmospheres around,” he said.

Farah, the general manager, said opening day still brings butterflies.

He is also nervous, he acknowledged, because he does not want to disappoint any fans. He hopes they will be understanding of different and ever-changing protocols.
“These are not my rules, but I have to play by them,” he said.

Order up 

New at the park this year will be the opportunity for fans to order food from their seats using the FanFood app on their phones. Fans will be notified when their food is ready for pick-up.

Farah said the grill will be on, and the beer and wine will be flowing, as well. 

Columbia Cup 

Also new this year is the creation of the Columbia Cup. The Raptors and the Black Bears will play seven games this season, and the team that wins the most games in the series will win the cup for the year. Farah said he hopes fans of both teams will travel the 30 miles to support the players and get into this rivalry.

Local players on roster

The Raptors roster changes often throughout a season. Especially in the early going of the season. Many players who expect to be with the Raptors are still playing college baseball, for example. 

With that said, the Raptors have six players from Clark County on the roster right now: Nick Jennings of Eastern Oregon University went to Skyview High School. Ryan Pitts of Lower Columbia College went to Skyview High School. Tanner Jacques of Linfield College went to Skyview High School. Grant Heiser of Seattle University went to Camas High School. Nick Nygard of the University of Portland went to Columbia River High School. And Caden Vire, an Arizona State signee, is a senior at Skyview High School. (Vire is on the opening day roster but will not be available until next week. He is still playing for Skyview this week.)

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