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Friday’s 2A Softball: Strasser No-Hits Spudders for District Title

W.F. West’s Lexie Strasser watches her pitch fly towards home plate against Ridgefield during the 2A District 4 softball tournament championship game on Friday in Longview.

ALMOST PERFECT: Lexie Strasser’s No-No, Defense Lead W.F. West to 4-0 Win in Sixth-Straight District Championship

By Aaron VanTuyl

avantuyl@chronline.com

LONGVIEW — Lexie Strasser wasn’t perfect, but she was so close she could see perfection from the inside of the pitcher’s circle here Friday.

One pitch away, to be exact; the seventh pitch of a walk she dealt to Ridgefield’s Madison Syring with one out in the fourth inning of the District 4 2A Softball Tournament’s championship game.

“I was a little mad at myself over that walk,” Strasser admitted afterwards, holding the district champions’ trophy. “But we’re chilling. It’s okay.”

Strasser, a senior headed for Central Washington University, was happy to settle for a no-hitter — and the sixth-straight District 4 title that came with the 4-0 win.

“We kind of figured, because no one really got on base,” Bearcat third baseman Kindra Davis joked, of whether or not the team realized Strasser was working a no-hitter. “But she was on fire. She was doing her job, and our defense was backing her up, so it was really fun.”

The defense, indeed, was flawless behind her. Kyndra Haller made a handful of impressive plays at second base, shortstop Olivia Dean made a running stop on a grounder to end the sixth inning, and Strasser — at 6-foot-2 — provided a highlight in the sixth by reaching over the top of the smaller Davis to snag an infield fly.

“In my defense, I called it first,” Strasser said, “and I didn’t hear her.”

W.F. West’s Lexie Strasser holds the district championship trophy up high away from her senior teammates after the Bearcats’ earned a 4-0 win over Ridgefield in the 2A District 4 softball tournament championship game at 7th Avenue Park in Longview on Friday, May 18, 2017.

The infield had plenty of chances to make plays; Strasser faced 22 batters and struck out five, and no ball reached the outfield.

“I was just so excited with our defense,” Bearcat coach Mike Keen said. “OJ (Dean) had a couple, Haller, at second, went in the hole, planted … and then Ashlee Vadala at first? A ground ball hit in the infield is going to be an out.”

Dean reached base to lead off the top of the first when her bunt was overthrown to first, moved to second when Haller drew a walk, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from Davis. Haller then scored on a ground ball to second from Strasser, staking the Bearcats an early 2-0 advantage.

Ridgefield pitcher Kaia Oliver then turned the game into a pitchers’ duel. She gave up a single to Jordan Crawford in the second inning, but retired 11 straight from the third to the sixth frames. Oliver, a sophomore, struck out seven and walked one, holding W.F. West to three hits without surrendering an earned run.

“I thought she was good. She was faster than almost all the pitchers we’ve faced so far, and she had a good changeup,” Davis said. “So she was burning some of us with that.”

Strasser, though, didn’t need much in the way of run support.

“Every pitch was working. She was hitting all of her spots,” Keen said, crediting assistant coach Kevin Zylstra with calling pitches. “He’s an old pitcher, and he and the pitchers and catchers are just on the same page.”

Davis and Strasser hit back-to-back one-out singles in the sixth, and an error on a ground ball from Vadala scored a run. Another grounder from Paetynn Lopez then pushed across the game’s final run.

And three quick outs later, W.F. West was, for the sixth year in a row, hoisting the district trophy and looking forward to its 14th straight trip to the State 2A tournament — not that it ever gets to be routine.

“It’s always that pressure, and then once you finally win it, it’s good to have it back,” Davis, a junior, said. “Our performance at district was just amazing. Yesterday we were clicking, today we were on fire — our defense is really good.

“But yeah, I’m really excited,” she added. “And I have high hopes for state.”

Note: W.F. West (18-2) starts State 2A tournament play on Friday at Selah’s Carlon Park.
At Longview

BEARCATS 4, SPUDDERS 0

Ridgefield 000 000 0 — 0 0 3

W.F. West 200 002 X — 4 3 0

Batteries: Ridgefield — Kaia Oliver and Emma Jenkins; W.F. West — Lexie Strasser and Paetynn Lopez

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