When Ridgeview’s softball team met for the first time back in January, the Ravens set a goal that no other Central Oregon softball team had been able to accomplish in 40 years — winning a state championship.
“We had to make a conscious effort to decide to put that goal out in front of them because sometimes it’s too big,” said Ridgeview coach Sandy Fischer of the magnitude of becoming the first softball team in the area to ever win a state title. “But I told them when I coached in college (Fischer guided Oklahoma State to national prominence as the program’s head coach from 1979 to 2001) my job was to recruit talent, and I see enough talent that we can win a state championship. If we work hard and do this right, we have offense, we have defense and we have pitching.”
After defeating Dallas 5-1 Saturday in Eugene to win the Class 5A state championship, Fischer said she hoped the Ravens’ historic accomplishment would inspire more girls in Central Oregon to play softball.
“What I’d like the Central Oregon athletes to know is that at age 8, 9 and 10, join a team and start the dream because it starts at a really young age,” Fischer said. “They can have a dream and it can be real. You just have to work at it. It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It just is.”
Ridgeview’s state title put an exclamation point on a landmark spring sports season in Central Oregon.
The day before Ridgeview’s 5A softball triumph, in Keizer, La Pine won its second straight Class 3A baseball state championship. It was an equally momentous victory for the Hawks, whose title is only the fourth by a Central Oregon baseball team since the first OSAA baseball championship game was played in 1946.
Before this year, no more than one Central Oregon diamond-sports team had ever played in a state final in the same season.
La Pine’s second baseball title came after the Hawks wrestling team won its first state championship in February and then junior Tommy Rohde captured the school’s first golf state title in May.
“Success breeds success,” La Pine athletic director and wrestling coach Aaron Flack said as he watched the Hawks celebrate Friday at Volcanoes Stadium with the 3A baseball championship trophy. “We’ve got a lot of community support. They’re getting behind these kids and it’s fun to be a part of. They believe they can compete and put La Pine on the map. They see it and they want it again next year. It’s a fun place to be. Now everyone is looking out for La Pine in different sports and see us as one of the top programs in 3A.”
Not long after celebrating their second title, the Hawks, who could return as many as eight of nine starters next season, began thinking about winning a third.
“Every single year we expect to win a championship,” La Pine coach Bo DeForest said. “That’s just how I play. I don’t play for any other goal than to be a state champion. That’s the expectation.”
La Pine sophomore Alex Farnsworth, who does not know any way to finish a baseball season other than with a state title, talked about winning two more before he graduates.
“I’ve already got two,” he said. “I’m going for two more.”
The weekend’s softball and baseball triumphs put a nice bow on a spring season filled with athletic success for Central Oregon high school teams and athletes.
Earlier in May at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center, Redmond won its first tennis state championships in school history when senior Benny Saito and sophomore Skyler Jones captured the Class 5A boys doubles title to lead the Panthers to the team championship.
While there were plenty of firsts this season, a number of local athletes simply continued to dominate their sports.
Summit senior Olivia Loberg won her third straight golf state championship, her first in 6A. Ridgeview senior Isaac Buerger won his second 5A golf championship in three years.
In track and field, Mountain View junior Jasmine Martin won the fourth state championship of her career and her first in the triple jump, giving her titles now in high jump, long jump and triple jump.
Summit’s Fiona Max won her second state championship in the 3,000-meter run. Max, a junior, also has four state runner-up finishes in her high school track career.
Not bad for a season that started late for many teams in the region after a record late-winter snowfall.
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com