Beavers claim Class 2A championship
This weekend belonged to Woodland at the Class 2A state softball tournament.
No other team came close to stopping the Beavers.
The Beavers beat Ellensburg 5-1 Saturday afternoon at Carlon Park in Selah to win the state championship. It is the program’s second WIAA state title.
The Beavers went 4-0 in the tourney by a combined score of 33-5. That included a 10-1 victory over defending champion W.F. West in the semifinals earlier on Saturday.
“I knew we could do it, but to do it so … convincingly … that was pretty cool,” Woodland coach Tom Christensen said.
Woodland pitcher Olivia Grey, a junior, struck out 68 batters in the tourney, including 20 in the title game.
“She’s just a workhorse,” Christensen said. “She trains. She ices. She has good mechanics. She never complains about however many innings she has to pitch. It’s impressive for a young kid to be that dedicated.”
The Beavers got production on offense from up and down the lineup, too.
Lila Russell broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the second inning in the title game, and that was all the Beavers would need. Of course, they did not mind adding some insurance. Payten Foster’s run-scoring single in the fifth made it 3-1. The Beavers added a run in the sixth and seventh innings, too, with Justice Holcomb and Maddi Bunger driving in those runs.
Chloe Eddy set the tone for the offense with a run-scoring hit in the top of the first inning. Ellensburg tied it in the bottom half of the frame, but it was all Woodland the rest of the game.
Just like it was all Woodland all weekend.
“It just feels really good,” Christensen said. “Our goal was to get to state. It was good to get to state and not just be happy and show up. We joke around a lot, but as soon as the games start, this team knows how to flip the switch and be aggressive.”
Foster hit a grand slam to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning against W.F. West. Eddy and Carleigh Risley added two-run shots later in the semifinal. It was Risley’s first home run of her high school career.
That came after Kaily Christensen hit three home run on the opening day of the tournament Friday.
“We got hot, and it got contagious,” Tom Christensen said. “We peaked at the right time.”
It was all about confidence, he said.
Confidence? Confidence? With all that run support for Grey? You bet the Beavers were confident. With that combination, this title was theirs for the taking.
This will go down as one of the greatest pitching performances in tournament history as Grey averaged 17 strikeouts per game.
Woodland shared the 2A Greater St. Helens League title with Ridgefield this season, then finished third at the district tournament to advance to state. At district, it was W.F. West that beat the Beavers in the semifinals, a game that went into extra innings.
At state, the Beavers made sure it was not close against the defending champions.
Once getting over that W.F. West hurdle, the Beavers took care of business against Ellensburg to claim the championship.
The Camas Papermakers lost in the 4A semifinals to eventual champion Jackson. The Papermakers fell into the consolation bracket and rebounded for a 5-0 victory over Richland to advance to a trophy game.
Central Valley would win the third-place game 5-2, and the Papermakers settled for a fourth-place trophy.
Kennedy Ferguson got a home run in the final game, allowing her to complete her high school career with school records on offense and defense. The pitcher set the single season record for more strikeouts and now has the most home runs in a season for a Papermaker.
Back at the 2A tournament, Ridgefield, which won a share of the 2A GSHL title with Woodland, lost in the quarterfinals at state Friday, then went 1-1 in the consolation bracket Saturday, just missing out on placing.