Tualatin breaks through to top Franklin
TUALATIN — For inning after inning, a look at the scoreboard showed the same thing — 0-0.
But, with the way junior Tia Ridings was pitching, the Tualatin High School softball team likely had little to worry about. And, the Timberwolves knew, sometime they'd be able to break through.
Well, they were ride.
Tualatin, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and behind Ridings' no-hit pitching performance, got a 2-0 win over Franklin in a Class 6A state playoff second-round game played Wednesday at Tualatin High School.
"I think was good, but it could have gone better," Ridings said after the game. "We kind of waited a little too long to get our bats going, collectively. But, once we did, it went great."
"It's big. I don't think we ever lost sight, and we never thought that we'd lose," said Tualatin junior Savannah Braun, who scored the game's first run. "We all stayed in it the entire time, and that's what it came down to."
"I knew from the start that we'd have a rough time getting going," said Tualatin junior Sydney Wagner, who tripled in Braun. "But it was great seeing the battle that we went through. It was amazing. I love that."
With the loss, Franklin, the No. 2 team out of the Portland Interscholastic League, and the No. 20 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 17-11. Tualatin, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 4 team in the power rankings, improved to 23-5 with the victory. The Wolves also advance to the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where they'll host Clackamas on Friday in a game set to start at 5 p.m. at Tualatin High School.
Ridings, a left hander, took control right from the start of Wednesday's game. She retired the first 13 batters that she faced, striking out seven in a row at one point.
"I felt really good," Ridings said. "I had a good warm-up, and that let me know that the game was going to be good. I just felt it."
"She was so good today. I was watching from center, and said, 'this is amazing,'" Wagner said. "I was like, 'oh my gosh, Tia, you got this.' But the other pitcher came in and she threw a great game. I want to give her props."
Franklin sophomore pitcher Edith Pederson matched up with Ridings in a pitchers' duel, shutting out Tualatin over the first five innings.
But that doesn't mean the Wolves didn't have some scoring threats. In the bottom of the third inning, Ridings hit a one-out single and senior Emily Johansen was intentionally walked with two outs in the frame. But Pederson got out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Ridings hit a two-out single. Senior Andrea Gomez was then hit by a pitch, and Johansen was intentionally walked again. But Pederson coaxed an inning-ending groundout to leave the bases loaded.
But, in the bottom of the sixth, the Wolves wouldn't be denied.
Braun got things started with a one-out single to center field.
"I was just trying to get on base, whatever it took," Braun said.
Wagner then tripled to deep left field, driving in Braun for the game's first run.
"I knew she could do it," Braun said. "That felt really great."
"It was like, 'oh my gosh, she got on base, now I have to do this. I'm going to do this for my team,'" Wagner said. "It happens every time. I get up there, and I wanted to do this for my team, for the seniors. It felt so good. I was so happy when I saw it go out there, and I was running until (Tualatin coach) Jenna (Wilson) tells me to stop."
Tualatin wasn't done there. One out later, junior Kaylee Mo singled to center field, driving in Wagner, upping the lead to 2-0.
"I was really proud of Kaylee, and I was so happy that I was able to score," Wagner said.
Ridings then struck out the first two batters she faced in the top of the seventh. Franklin senior Christina Barrett then reached base on a Tualatin error, bringing the tying run to the plate. But that didn't matter as Ridings struck out freshman Gabrielle Gray, her 13th strikeout of the game, to wrap up the Wolves' 2-0 victory.
"We just took a little too long to get going. I mean, seriously, give me a heart attack," Ridings said with a laugh. "This is big. I think we're excited to go on. It's the quarterfinals now. That's a big deal. It's excited, and we're really looking forward to it."
"It's really big," Braun said. "I think, at the beginning of the season, we had a lot of confidence, but, when we lost (ending the Wolves' 45-game winning streak), it was really rough, because we didn't know where we'd go from that. But we bounced back, and we're ready."
"I think this says that we can put up a big battle, and we're not here to lose and go home," Wagner said. "We want to fight all the way through."
Ridings, in getting the no-hitter, had just one walk to go with her 13 strikeouts.
"She did an amazing job," Braun said. "And I think we all did a good job in the field."
Wagner went 2 for 3 at the plate with a triple, a run scored and an RBI. Ridings went 2 for 4. Johansen walked in all three of her plate appearances.
For Franklin, Pederson gave up two runs on six hits, while striking out six and walking three.
Clackamas, the No. 2 team out of the Mt. Hood Conference, and the No. 12 team in the power rankings, brings an overall record of 19-9 into Friday's state playoff quarterfinal game. The contest is also a rematch of the 2018 Class 6A state championship game, where Tualatin defeated the Cavaliers 4-3 in eight innings.
The winner of Friday's game at Tualatin will meet either McMinnville or Grants Pass in a state playoff semifinal game on Tuesday.