Ridgefield officials and team call first year a success
RIDGEFIELD — The Ridgefield Raptors are finished for the season, but they are just beginning in Clark County.
On Sunday, the Raptors completed a three-game sweep of the Bend Elks at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Center, completing their first season with a .500 record in the West Coast League. If you add the team’s 5-1 non-league record, it is a winning season.
They won off the field, as well.
Steve Stuart, the city manager for Ridgefield, said that roughly 30,000 people came out to the park this summer, many coming to the city for the first time.
“To introduce all those people to our community is a great thing,” Stuart said. “Economically, we don’t have the numbers yet. But what we’ve seen is excitement in our community, for community entertainment that wasn’t here before. This is for Ridgefield families and all of Southwest Washington to enjoy.”
Downtown businesses rode the Raptors momentum with tailgate parties before games as well as other marketing agreements.
“This was everything that we anticipated that it was going to be,” said Dan Stose, Ridgefield’s mayor. “We have formed an absolutely awesome partnership with the Ridgefield Raptors. This has been great for all of Southwest Washington, not just Ridgefield.”
Most of the players had never been to Ridgefield before this season. They were impressed.
“Oh my, I love it here,” said Michael Hicks, who will be a senior at Boise State University and is playing in his final college summer league. “The support from the community has been incredible. Every time we’d go on the road, we all wanted to be back home.”
“I absolutely loved Ridgefield,” added Jonny Weaver, who plays college ball at Grand Canyon State. “Best place I went to all summer. Great atmosphere. Great field. Just a great all-around experience.”
Weaver has summer league eligibility remaining. He is not sure if he will return to the Raptors in 2020 — that is up to his college coaches — but he said it would be a great opportunity to play in Ridgefield again.
Cameron Repetti will be an incoming freshman at Cal State Fullerton. He spent his first post-high school summer in Clark County.
“It was a lot different than what I expected,’’ Repetti said. “It was fantastic. I love the town. The county brought us in with open arms. They provided a great atmosphere for us to play. They showed up every game.”
Operating a summer wood bat league for college athletes is so much more than playing baseball games at a facility. A franchise also needs families to open their homes to house players for the season.
“My host family was the best part,” Repetti said. “I think I hit the lottery.”
He lived with the Radosevich family, and Repetti got four “host” brothers out of the deal.
He, too, is eligible to play next summer. He said that is up to his coaches at Cal State Fullerton, but if he does come back, he wants to live in the same home.
“If I come back, I’d love to bring more Fullerton guys with me,” Repetti said.
One thing is certain: The Raptors will be back.
Stuart said there is a lot to look forward to now that the team and the city have had a season together.
“A lot of this year was sprinting to the finish line to get the facility open and operational,” Stuart said.
Once the season started, it went by in a blur. In the coming weeks, the team and city will hold a meeting to recap the summer.
“What did we learn? What can we do better for our community?” Stuard asked.
He said his favorite day was the opener.
“It’s about spending time with your family and having fun together and making memories,” Stuart said.
The Raptors provided that for a number of families in Year One.
They hope to build from the success in future seasons.