RIDGEFIELD — After losing to Ridgefield twice in the regular season, the R.A. Long softball team’s focus for their 2A GSHL tournament matchup with the Spudders was on the offensive side of the ball. But despite managing more runs than either two of the prequels, the Lumberjills just couldn’t keep pace with two huge innings for the hosts in a 13-9 loss.
“We thought we could win the game by getting 10 runs,” R.A. Long coach Dave McDaniel said. “But they just hit the crap out of the ball.”
At one point trailing 6-0, the Lumberjills started to claw their way back with a run in the top of the third inning and two more in the fourth. After the first two batters of the fifth inning were retired, R.A. Long rattled off two singles and two walks to bring a run home, before Mylee Grimm shot a single back up the middle to tie the game up at 6-6.
“It always takes us a little bit to get the bats going,” McDaniel said. “But once they got going, they got the confidence rolling, and the bats started doing pretty good.”
Suddenly in a new ballgame, and with Miranda Bergquist having retired seven of the nine Spudders she’d faced so far in relief, the Lumberjills had the momentum on their side to start the stretch run.
But coming back around to face Bergquist for the second time, the Spudders pounced.
A leadoff double put Bergquist and company in a danger spot right off the bat, and a one-out single gave Ridgefield the lead right back. After a sacrifice bunt put a second out on the board, the junior nearly got out of the frame with minimal damage, but couldn’t quite come up with a lined shot back at her, which bounced away far enough to bring another run home.
Then the floodgates opened up, with two more Ridgefield singles, a 2-RBI triple by Lillian Mittmann, and a two-run home run by Kekai Schultz.
“They just went off,” McDaniel said. “They just hit the damn ball.”
R.A. Long loaded the bases in the top of the sixth on singles by Gracie Byrnes, Bergquist, and Myah Bodily, and Madison Fierst cleared the bases with an error-aided Little League style triple that traveled all of about 30 feet in the air. That gaffe cut the deficit to four runs, but the Lumberjills left runners on the corners to end the frame, and couldn’t get a runner past first in the seventh.
At the top of the R.A. Long batting order, Hope Childers went 3-for-5 with two doubles. At the bottom, Grimm had a 3-for-4 day with two RBIs and scored a run. In between those two, every single Lumberjill got on base at least once, with Bodily and Jadyn Terry adding two-hit games.
But, R.A. Long ended up leaving five of those runners in scoring position.
“We needed to stay back and power through it, and we just kept getting on our front foot,” McDaniel said. “They kept throwing it; they were smart about it. Every time a batter’s on their front foot, you go right back after them again, and that’s what they did. Yeah, we did get those nine runs, but that’s what happened.”
For their part, Ridgefield did not take its time to go after Bodily, who started in the circle for R.A. Long. Three of the five Spudders to come up in the bottom of the first put the first pitch they saw in play, and the other two had two-pitch at-bats. All ripped off hard shots, and while three found Lumberjill gloves, Mittman managed to put one in a spot no defender could get: over the wall in left-center for a solo homer that gave Ridgefield a 1-0 lead.
The hosts put up five more in the second, forcing McDaniel to pull Bodily and bring Bergquist in from center field to pitch and get the guests back into the dugout.
“That umpire was giving us a low strike zone,” McDaniel said. “We weren’t effective with the low strike zone, in my opinion, and Ridgefield did a pretty good job with the low strike zone. We got the ball up a lot.”
The loss knocks R.A. Long (9-7) out of contention for the 2A GSHL title or a District championship. The Lumberjills will play one last game, against Woodland, on Thursday to wrap up the season.