They were merely trying to be realistic: After graduating seven key players – all of whom could swing a potent bat – the Auburn Riverside Ravens weren’t making any bold predictions about this spring’s softball season.
Here’s what’s really realistic: Auburn Riverside now is assured of at least a tie for the South Puget Sound League 3A regular-season championship.
Plenty of Ravens swung big bats on Tuesday afternoon. Auburn Riverside piled up 15 hits, spread among seven different players – including a 5-for-5, three-run, three-RBI performance by Katie Grad – on the way to a 12-2 rout of crosstown rival Auburn in six innings at Game Farm Park.
That sent Riverside into Thursday’s regular-season finale against Sumner (results unavailable) with a 12-1 record and assured of no worse than a tie with Enumclaw for the top spot in the standings.
“It’s not like I went into the season losing seven people and thinking we were going to be 12-1 or 13-1,” said coach Chris Leverenz, whose team shared last year’s league title with Bonney Lake at 12-2 and eventually went to state. “(But) we can’t get complacent just because we’ve had a good beginning of the year. We have to get better Our hitting has to get better, and defensively, we have to get better.”
Whether they ultimately win the title outright or share it with Enumclaw, with which it split two regular-season games, Auburn Riverside already is assured of a trip to the West Central District tournament. The Ravens will play for seeding in the SPSL 3A-Seamount League playoffs next week at Service Fields in Kent.
“I didn’t think we would be up (this high). But we got some good underclass players,” said pitcher Amanda Fitzsimmons, who did her part on Tuesday, scattering seven hits, striking out 12 Trojans, and going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and two RBIs.
Auburn (7-6) was 7-3 just two weeks ago after an 11-inning, 2-1 victory against Auburn Mountainview on April 22.
The Trojans then embarked on a season-ending schedule that included two against Enumclaw (including the finale on Thursday, results unavailable), one against third-place Bonney Lake and Tuesday’s contest against Auburn Riverside. Auburn lost the first three of those, but was very much in the playoff chase.
Auburn Riverside jumped ahead with three runs in the first inning on Tuesday, and never trailed. The Trojans scrambled right back into it in the top of the third, getting just one hit, but capitalizing on a pair of Ravens errors.
Riverside answered with two in the bottom of the third, added a single tally in the fourth, then broke it open with four in the fifth, making it 10-2.
“We just had to go out and hit with a lot of confidence,” said Sellers, who went 2 for 3, scored one run and drove in another. “We had to make sure not to underestimate them.”