The trees blossom, the snow-capped mountains become visible more often and Ridgeview’s softball team claims another league title.

The spring traditions don’t look any different this year in Redmond. After a week away from Intermountain Conference play, the Ravens (9-0 IMC, 15-1 overall) sat 3 1/2 ahead of second-place Redmond going into their May 1 game against the Panthers.

With seven games to play in the league, the No. 8 Ravens are showing no signs of slowing down after losing several key seniors from their 2017 team, which reached the state quarterfinals for the first time in Class 5A. Overall, Ridgeview has nine new players, replacing eight seniors who moved on.

The upperclassmen are getting used to the new players and vice versa,said Ridgeview coach Sandy Fischer.

“It took a while to finally get to know each other,” she said. “They could always do better, of course, but we’re doing really well.”

The Ravens have looked particularly strong in pitching and defense, with Ridgeview throwing shutouts in six league games, including its last four. Along with junior Natalie Hill, a second-team all-state selection as a utility player last season, Ridgeview has gotten strong pitching from sophomore Allicite Frost, whose family moved from Bend before the season.

“We were fortunate that, when we lost seniors last year, we were able to reload instead of rebuild,” Fischer said.

The pitchers say the team has gotten to know each other quickly.

“Our long bus trips early in the season help a lot, too, just because we get to know each other,” Hill said. “It’s a bonding experience.”

Frost has learned the Ravens ability to stay relaxed, while keeping their guard up.

“Always be on top of our game,” she said.

“The second we let our guard down is when we let them beat us, even if we’re up 5-0,” Hill added. “”We’ve got to keep our energy going. We can’t get cocky, we have to play with the same mentality the whole game, that’s super important.”

The Ravens stayed sharp in the IMC off-week with an 18-1 victory against No. 16 The Dalles. They are scheduled to play Redmond again Wednesday and Friday before starting the final stretch of games next week.

Softball differs from most sports, where Bend schools are often at the top of the IMC standings. Fischer said league competition should improve in the 2019 season, when Bend, Summit and Mountain View move up to Class 6A.

Among next season’s league opponents are 2017 Class 4A runner-up Crook County, 5A semifinalist Pendleton and 5A quarterfinalist Hood River Valley.

Ridgeview wraps up the 2018 regular season May 18 with a tune-up game against Henley, the defending Class 4A champions, currently ranked No. 3. After having some games against strong teams canceled by weather early in the season, Fischer said it will be important for preparation.

“Once we get into the state playoffs, we’re playing against teams that have really good competition,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t, it’s that Central Oregon has up and down years.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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