Battle Ground High School’s softball team came out swinging as they secured third place at the state tournament in Spokane, setting a historic record for the team.
The team had an overall record of 17-3, according to Coach Jeremy Barr. Battle Ground started the state tournament on May 27 with a 5-3 win against Olympia High School and then lost to Skyview High School, 2-1. The Tigers then picked up momentum as they beat Mount Si High School, 4-2.
On May 28, Battle Ground won games against Kamiakin High School 8-2, Puyallup High School 14-4, and finally Skyline High School 3-2, ending their state run in the top four spots.
“I’m very excited and very proud of the kids, knowing how close we were to get to play for more,” Barr said. “It was heartbreaking for the kids to try to come back after that first loss, knowing we couldn’t win it. But the kids took care of their business and won every other game to get third place. I’m really excited about the kids making program history.”
Barr highlighted a few notable players from the tournament like junior Rylee Rehbein, who the coach said had a phenomenal year, scoring multiple home runs and extra base hits.
“(She) came up clutch on both sides of the ball for sure,” he said.
There’s also senior Kelly Monaghan, who Barr said complimented Rehbein as “warriors for us all weekend.” Senior Liv Gruenberg also hit an .800 batting average. Then there’s seniors Candice Adams, who had a “huge diving play” in a few games in the outfield, and Emma Elliot, who had a diving play that saved a three-run home run that “preserved the lead for us.” Elliot dived over the top of the fence and made a catch as she crashed down on the other side of the final out of the inning, he said.
According to Barr, Elliot is a “driven and focused” player who is serious about what she does and leads by example. Monaghan, on the other hand, is “business first but has a great time at everything that she does.”
“(Monaghan’s) energy and spirit kind of helps keeps the team on a great high all the time,” Barr said. “We feed off her energy.”
Rehbein is “ultra-intense,” and competes with a fiery passion in everything that she does, the coach said. Although Rehbein knows how to have fun, Barr said “when she steps in the circle, she’s all business.” He noted she is “an amazing worker with this great spirit about her.”
As for newer players, Barr sees great potential in freshmen Aliseyah Lindersmith and Lorelei Brown, who both had some great bunts, which helped move runners into scoring positions.
“(They) are freshmen that have a great future with us that came up and contributed in their ways running great bases,” Barr said.
Another highlight that stood out to him was from junior Katelyn Swanson, who he said had two outs but made a comeback with a three-run home run that “got us to a 10-run lead and ended us on a mercy rule.” That home run was her first on the team.
“So in the biggest situation of her high school career, she stepped up and blew one out of the yard to end the game and put us in a trophy game,” he said.
Sophomore Jenna Crabtree was used as a runner through the tournament for the first pitcher or catcher that reached base because she “was as good as almost anybody in the state at going two bases on balls that most kids are only going to get one base on. She was a smart force on the base path also,” Barr said.
As impressed as Barr is with the team’s performance, he has some plans in store for next year’s team.
“The goal is to take the great progress that the kids made this year and take it to the next step next year,” he said. “We’re extremely grateful, but not (fully) satisfied. We got a great young core, and I feel like the future is only looking better. We’ve got such a great group of coaches in our youth programs that are really funneling exceptional ball players into our program, so the goal is to take that step and keep moving the bar.”