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The defending Class 6A state champion, after going 30-0 last year, is off and rolling again

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin High School senior Emily Johansen, shown here smiling after hitting a home run in last year's state championship game, returns for the Timberwolves.You can't do any better than the Tualatin High School softball team did a year ago.

The 2018 season saw the Timberwolves go 30-0, wrapping up their perfect season with a thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind, walk-off win over Clackamas in the Class 6A state championship game.

Going into the 2019 season, the Tualatin team looks a bit different, but the expectations — and the results — very well could be the same.

The Timberwolves, who brought a 30-game overall winning streak, and a 37-game Three Rivers League winning streak, into the 2019 season, look prepared to make another big run.

"Our pitching is strong and our hitting will do well," Tualatin coach Jenna Wilson said. "We have high hopes to be in the top half of the league. They definitely should finish in the top half of the league, if not at the very top, and have the tools to put together a deep postseason run."

While Tualatin did lose four starters — each first-team All-Three Rivers League selections — the Wolves also return a strong group of players from last year's 30-0 team.

Among the returnees is senior first baseman Emily Johansen. Last year, when she was a first-team All-Three Rivers League pick and a second-team Class 6A All-State selection, Johansen belted 16 home runs, including a monster, game-tying two-run blast in the Class 6A state championship game.

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Junior Bella Valdes returns at shortstop and at the leadoff spot for the Tualatin softball team this season.Junior left-hander Tia Ridings takes over as Tualatin's No. 1 pitcher this year. She also was a first-team all-league pick last year. Riding isn't the Wolves' only pitcher, as senior Lily Marshall, junior Sydney Wagner, sophomore Taylor Corcoran and freshman Camille Schmitz could all see time in the circle.

Joining Johansen in the infield are a pair of returning starters from last year's championship team in junior shortstop Bella Valdes and senior second baseman Andrea Gomez. Valdes and Gomez were both All-TRL honorable-mention picks last year.

Freshman Ella Hoyle takes over at third base. Tualatin will have another freshman at catcher in Leanna Rosenbaum.

Wagner and junior Savannah Braun, who were both on the varsity roster last year, Marshall, Ridings junior Kaylee Mo and junior Nicole Webb could all see time in the outfield.

The mixture of returning players from last year's championship team and newcomers to the varsity roster seems to be working out well so far for the Timberwolves.

"About half of our team are returners and half are new," Ridings said following a 3-2 win over Roseburg earlier in the season. "It's been real fun. Our practices are fun. We're having a good time, and we're meshing really well."

"I think it's going really good," Wagner said. "I think we have a 50-50 mix, and it's nice with the newbies. We're all like, 'let's become one team, and let's get it done.'"

As for the Three Rivers League this year, Wilson sees plenty of strong competition ahead for the Wolves.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin HIgh School senior Andrea Gomez (left) is back at second base for the defending state champions this season."Tualatin hopes to compete well with Tigard, Oregon City and Lakeridge who are expected to be among the Three Rivers favorites," she said.

Tualatin is off to a strong start to the season. The Wolves went 4-0 at the Jesuit/Mountainside Tournament, held Monday and Tuesday, to improve to 8-0 on the season, while also upping their winning streak to 38 games.

Tualatin opened the tournament on Monday with a 13-3 win over Sprague in a game played at Mountainside.

Johansen had a huge game for the Wolves in that win, going 4 for 4 at the plate with a home run, a double, two runs scored and six RBIs. Rosenbaum went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs. Ridings went 2 for 4 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI. Valdes went 2 for 5 with two runs scored. Braun went 2 for 4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Gomez scored a pair of runs.

Marshall and Ridings combined to pitch Tualatin to the win.

Later on Monday at Mountainside, the Wolves came back from a 3-1 deficit to get a 5-4 win over Roosevelt. Wagner hit a home run in that game. Rosenbaum had a pair of hits.

Tualatin opened play on Tuesday by getting a 6-0 win over previously unbeaten Mountainside. Valdes went 2 for 3 at the plate with a double, a run scored and an RBI in the victory. Rosenbaum and Wagner each drove in a pair of runs.

Ridings threw a complete-game shutout, giving up five hits, while striking out 12 and walking two.

The Wolves finished tourney play later on Tuesday with a 10-1 win over St. Helens. Johansen had another huge day at the plate, going 3 for 3 with a grand-slam home run, a double, a stolen base and seven RBIs. Valdes went 3 for 4 with three stolen bases and three runs scored. Gomez went 2 for 3 with three runs scored and an RBI. Webb had a double, a run scored and an RBI.

Schmitz and Marshall combined to pitch Tualatin to the victory.

The Wolves will be back in action on Monday, when they travel to McNary for a 5 p.m. non-league game.

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