Opening Night: Raptors pick a Spudder to help usher in a new era

Spencer Andersen, still in high school, will be in uniform for new baseball team

RIDGEFIELD — He is still a Spudder, but he is a Raptor, too.

The best of both worlds for Spencer Andersen.

After months of hype, after months of construction at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC), it is Opening Day for the Ridgefield Raptors. The new team in the West Coast League will begin its 33-game home schedule tonight against the Yakima Valley Pippins. First pitch is 6:35 p.m. Gates open for this special event at 5:30.

The team is comprised mostly of college baseball players, but there is one player who is not yet in college.

Spencer Andersen will graduate with his class at Ridgefield on Friday but he will be in uniform tonight with the Ridgefield Raptors. The new team in the West Coast League holds its home opener. Photo by Mike Schultz
Spencer Andersen will graduate with his class at Ridgefield on Friday but he will be in uniform tonight with the Ridgefield Raptors. The new team in the West Coast League holds its home opener. Photo by Mike Schultz

Spencer Andersen will graduate from Ridgefield High School on Friday. This week, though, he is also in uniform with the Raptors.

“I’m super blessed to be on that field again,” said Andersen, who played his senior season with the Spudders at the RORC’s baseball diamond. “I hope to inspire young little leaguers and middle schoolers to do the same thing I did.”

Again, most of the players are already in college, looking to use the summer schedule to improve their skills in a wood bat league.

“I judged him by his character and the community aspect of him being a neighbor,” said Gus Farah, the team’s general manager.

Yes, the GM said, Andersen is a talent. But it is more than just baseball skill.

“The community deserves to have a Ridgefield player here for at least a couple of weeks,” Farah said.

Andersen is just thrilled to be the first high school player to be on the team. His high school coach, Nick Allen, is an assistant with the Raptors, too.

“It’s crazy. I never would have expected it,” Andersen said. “He put in a pretty good word for me. I’ve got to make the most of it.”

In fact, Andersen said he hopes the short-term contract will be extended. He plans on pitching and hitting for Lower Columbia College next academic year. As far as his role with the Raptors, he knows he is pitching. (In fact, he got an inning of work in an exhibition game on the road Sunday.)

Spencer Andersen will trade in his Ridgefield Spudders uniform for a Ridgefield Raptors uniform. The Raptors signed a hometown pitcher to a short-term contract. Photo by Mike Schultz
Spencer Andersen will trade in his Ridgefield Spudders uniform for a Ridgefield Raptors uniform. The Raptors signed a hometown pitcher to a short-term contract. Photo by Mike Schultz

Andersen signed with the Raptors in mid March, but his coach knew about the opportunity to play for the new home team well in advance. Andersen said Allen kept it from him so Andersen would stay focused during the winter workouts.

“I freaked out,” Andersen said when he was told of his summer baseball opportunity.

“Oh my gosh, I’m set. This is the best for me,” he said. “I feel I’ll be competing at the highest level because these guys have already been through it.”

Yes, it is a big deal for Andersen to represent Ridgefield as a member of the Raptors. But this is also some serious (and fun) business. This is a competitive league.

“It’s cool to see these guys from all around, who play college ball, and I get to play with these guys, compete with these guys,” Andersen said. “These guys will make me better, too.”

It will also be cool for Ridgefield fans to cheer on a Spudder.

“All my friends are so happy for me,” Andersen said.

There are sure to be a lot of fans in attendance tonight. The premium seats for the opener are sold out, Farah said. For the other tickets, he advised getting to the park early. The Raptors expect a large turnout, and not just for baseball. There will be a fireworks display after the game.

“The whole community has just been waiting and waiting,” Farah said. “All of a sudden, it’s going to happen. We all deserve this. The community that voted for it deserves this. The people in Southwest Washington who have been ignored by baseball, they deserve this.”

Well, “this” begins tonight.

For more information, go to the Raptors website at: https://ridgefieldraptors.com/

We'd love to hear your comments!

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

Related posts