Notes on Battle Ground, Mountain View, and Woodland as postseason play begins
The Woodland Beavers are thriving under the hype of being the defending state champions.
The Battle Ground Tigers are embracing the whole team approach, with every player understanding her role.
The Mountain View Thunder are enjoying each other’s company. It is more than just the wins that fuel the Thunder.
It seems like forever ago when the high school baseball and soccer playoffs started. We celebrated the three league champions from Clark County in each sport at the beginning of their postseasons.
Today, it is softball’s turn as that sport begins its process for teams to qualify for state.
Class 2A GSHL
Woodland (19-0, 12-0 GSHL)
One could argue that the Woodland Beavers just completed the greatest regular season in Clark County high school softball history.
Being undefeated is one thing. Allowing only two runs all season? That’s historic. Those were two unearned runs, by the way. Yes, Olivia Grey has not allowed an earned run this season.
The record, though, is not the only barometer of a season.
“I would say what has made this season special for us is that we are still having fun,” Woodland coach Tom Christensen said.
In other words, they have not allowed the attention to get to them. And the Beavers, as defending state champions, have received a lot of attention.
“It was easy to play loose and relaxed last year when we had no pressure or expectations,” Christensen said. “But this year there is pressure to win. Not so much from us coaches or players, but we can feel it from the outside. People are always telling us how good we are and that nobody can beat us. But I think when you start thinking you’re unstoppable, that is when you start relaxing and taking plays off.”
That has not happened to the Beavers.
“We still keep pushing,” the coach said.
Woodland will open the 2A District 4 tournament later today with a 4 p.m. game against Aberdeen. The Beavers will play twice today. Two wins would secure a trip to state.
If the Beavers do continue their winnings ways, they will be appreciative of Daylin Siple and Leanna Russell.
Woodland has 12 players on varsity and uses 10 starters with a designated player/flex lineup. Siple and Russell understand their roles. They bring energy to practice and game days. Solid teammates, the coach said.
Everyone would love to start every game, but there are only so many spots in a lineup. The Woodland coaching staff understands the sacrifices made by Siple and Russell.
“Not knowing what the day will bring can be tough on a player mentally, but Daylin and Leanna both are always ready for whatever the team asks of them,” Christensen said. “They are honestly a very important part of what we do, and they don’t get much credit.”
Other 2A teams
Ridgefield, the No. 2 team, opens district play against Centralia. Hockinson, No. 3, takes on Tumwater. R.A. Long will play W.F. West. All games are 4 p.m. in Longview.
Class 3A GSHL
Mountain View (18-2, 14-1)
The Thunder opened the season 3-0 but it might have been their first loss of the season when people took notice. Hey, this is a good team, a really good team.
Mountain View was right there with Class 2A defending state champion Woodland, even scored a run off the Beavers. That’s a big thing, too. After all, Woodland only gave up two runs all season.
Anyway, after that 3-1 start, the Thunder reeled off 14 consecutive wins to cruise to the 3A GSHL title.
The victories piled up, but so, too, did the memories. For a couple of captains, it is the off-the-field chemistry that has meant more than just the number of wins.
Serena Fogg and Jocelyn Ocampo are now seniors, but they remember feeling left out a bit when they were freshmen.
“We felt secluded from the older players,” Fogg said.
Fogg and Ocampo wanted to make sure that did not happen on their watch.
“We do a lot more things as a team now,” Ocampo said, noting dinners and pool parties and just hanging out. “It feels like a sisterhood.”
Interestingly, Fogg and Ocampo have younger sisters on the team.
“Everyone else has become my little sisters, too,” Fogg said.
“We all feel the same age, like we are in the same grade,” Ocampo said.
As the team’s first-year head coach, Ashleigh Byrne said she did not know what to expect from this group. She quickly realized there was something special.
“I just love how these girls are on top of it,” she said. “They come to practice. They get set up. They get going on their own. They don’t need to be told. These girls are just really great.”
The Thunder will get going in the playoffs late this afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 3A bi-district tournament in Lacey. They play at 4 p.m. against Gig Harbor or Wilson. The winner of the 4 p.m. game advances to the semifinals and secures a spot to state. The loser goes into the consolation bracket.
As far as an unsung hero, Byrne loves what Maelyn Ocampo brings to the team.
“She just does everything we ask her to,” Byrne said, and more.
“She’s never good with compliments. She is very humble,” Byrne said.
And quiet, too.
“We’re trying to get her to be more vocal,” Byrne said. “Right now she flies under the radar. I know her teammates look up to her.”
Other 3A teams
Prairie, the No. 2 team from the league, opens the bi-district at 2 p.m. today against Timberline. The winner will play Stadium in the quarterfinals for a spot to state. Kelso, the No. 3 team, plays North Thurston at 2 p.m. today.
Class 4A GSHL
Battle Ground (15-5, 11-1 GSHL)
The Tigers opened league play with nine consecutive wins, seizing control to earn the top seed heading into this week’s bi-district tournament.
“I think what has made this championship season so special for us is how every single player on the team has played a significant role in our success,” Battle Ground coach Arielle Wiser said. “Every player has contributed to our success through the entire lineup, and everyone continues to work hard to play their role.
“Great leadership from our seniors, Grace Stillman and Brianna Adams, has also been key.”
Great play, too.
Stillman has been absolutely crushing the softball this season. She leads the the team in all the major categories: Average, home runs, runs scored, RBIs. She has 21 RBIs in 20 games played.
Wiser, though, noted how the entire lineup is getting the job done. The numbers back that assertion, too.
Five other players have driven in 11 or more runs. Six other players have scored 10 or more runs. Up and down the lineup, the Tigers are tough outs.
They hope to be a tough out in the playoffs, too. The Tigers open bi-district play in Kent with a Friday game against Todd Beamer. Battle Ground will play twice Friday. Two wins will secure a spot to state. One loss will send the team into the consolation bracket, and the Tigers would have to work their way to state on Saturday.
As far as an “unsung” hero, Wiser went with Adams. Not just for this season, but for her career.
She missed last season due to an arm injury but has returned to play second base for the Tigers this spring. It is her third position in her three seasons.
“She’s a smart, dynamic player and even though she may not get an abundance of media attention, she deserves all the recognition in the world.”
Other 4A teams
Skyview, the No. 2 team from the 4A GSHL, plays Federal Way at 11 a.m. Friday in Kent. Camas, the No. 3 team, won the play-in game Tuesday, a 10-0 win over Kentridge. The Papermakers take on Puyallup at 11 a.m. Friday.
The Class 1A District 4 tournament started Wednesday.
La Center went 1-1 and is in the consolation semifinals. The Wildcats will need to win that game, Saturday, for a berth to state.
King’s Way Christian lost two games and is done.
State Soccer update:
The Woodland Beavers made school history Wednesday, beating Sequim 3-2 to advance to the Class 2A boys soccer state quarterfinals for the first time.
Jackson Finn scored all three goals, all assisted by Jesse Thrall. Goalkeeper Treyson Thrall had a “huge save” in the final moments, according to Woodland Athletics.
Woodland will play Sehome in Bellingham at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Columbia River, which won Tuesday, announced that its quarterfinal match against Franklin Pierce will be 5 p.m. Saturday at Columbia River High School.
In 1A soccer, King’s beat Seton Catholic 2-0 on Wednesday.
And in 3A soccer, Mountain View, which won Tuesday, will play Kamiakin at 2 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium.