Softball: No. 2 Kennedy steamrolls into semifinals
The No. 2 Kennedy Trojans' 13-0 win over the No. 10 North Douglas Warriors in the quarterfinals of the 2018 2A/1A State Playoffs carried a lot of weight behind it.
Despite playing in separate conferences and separated by more than 100 miles, the two teams have become intimately familiar with each other throughout the past half-decade.
Friday's quarterfinal game marked the fifth straight year the two teams have faced off in the post season. North Douglas eliminated Kennedy in the first round in 2014 and 2015, while the Trojans took out the Warriors in the quarterfinals in 2016.
But the loss that stung the most came last year when Kennedy entered the playoffs ranked No. 1 in the state before the fifth-ranked Warriors scored a 3-2 victory in the semifinals to eliminate the Trojans once again.
North Douglas went on to win the state championship, while Kennedy was left holding the ball, done for the season one game earlier than expected. That loss has hung over the heads of the Trojans, and senior Tressa Riedman — among others — was motivated to get payback one year later.
"I want to get revenge really badly," she said after the Trojans' 13-0 win over the Riddle Irish in the first round of the playoffs on May 23.
"I looked too far ahead last year, I think our whole team did," Riedman said. "I think we just need to take it one game at a time."
There was no looking ahead in Friday's win; the North Douglas Warriors had Kennedy's full attention. The Trojans were on a mission to return to the semifinals for the third consecutive year and were more than happy to steamroll the defending state champion Warriors in the process.
After Riedman struck out two batters in the opening inning to keep the Warriors scoreless. The Trojans quickly got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Hannah Arritola hit a line drive to right field to bring in courtesy runner Rylie Newton. Emily Cuff doubled on the next at-bat to drive in Arritola before Ellie Cantu popped out to end the inning.
A scoreless second led to three more runs in the third for the Trojans, bringing their lead to 5-0.
That's when the flood gates opened in the bottom of the fourth.
The Trojans reeled off 13 consecutive plate appearances that yielded a runner on base, either due to a hit, walk, error or fielder's choice. By the time the inning was done, Kennedy had ripped off eight runs and turned the game into a rout.
Another scoreless frame in the top of the fifth and the Trojans were celebrating their third straight trip to the state semifinals.
Every member of the team contributed it some way to the victory. Hannah Arritola went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Molly Jaeger and Hailey Arritola each had two hits and two runs scored. Cuff and Abby Frey had two RBIs each. It was as thorough a playoff win as Kennedy has enjoyed in years, if not for the 13-0 win the team had scored two days prior against Riddle.
After opening that game by striking out the first three batters, Riedman led off the bottom of the frame, driving the first pitch she saw into the trees behind the left field fence at Kennedy High School.
The Trojans didn't slow down much from there, scoring at least two runs in every inning while holding the Irish to a single hit, courtesy of 12 strikeouts from Riedman in five innings of work.
"Our team did so good today, I'm so proud," Riedman said. "I think our whole team was excited about it. Our whole team was pumped, our whole team was hitting — it was a team effort on offense."
Together the Trojans tallied 10 hits and seven walks in addition to reaching base twice on two Irish errors.
On offense, Riedman led the way as well, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs, a walk and her home run. Hailey Arritola led the team with three RBIs, while Hannah Arritola, scored a team-high three runs off a pair of walks and an error.
The Trojans were scheduled to host a state playoff game on Tuesday against either No. 3 Central Linn (22-2, 16-2 SD 2) or No. 6 Monroe (19-5, 17-1 SD3).