By Mitch Ashcraft

CEDAR SPRINGS – Being state-ranked entering the postseason definitely puts a target on a team’s back.

Particularly when that team is playing its arch-rival for a district championship, and that rival is pretty good, too.

But the Oakridge softball team, ranked eighth in the state in Division 2, handled the pressure just fine on Saturday. The Eagles beat rival Orchard View 9-2 in the district championship game at Cedar Springs High School.

The Eagles beat Grant 13-0 earlier in the day in the semifinals.

Oakridge, now 36-3 on the season, advance to the regional semifinals against Kalkaska in Cadillac next Saturday.

“We have goals that we establish at the beginning of the year and this (district champions) was one of them,” said Oakridge head coach Joe Coletta.

Oakridge jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and tacked on two runs in both the second and third innings to go up 8-0.

“What I was really happy to see was that we came out strong to start the game,” Coletta said. “That’s what we preached in between games.”

Oakridge standout pitcher Alyssa Fessenden was outstanding, tossing a complete game while only allowing four hits and striking out 13. Fessenden retired 16 consecutive batters between the end of the first and sixth innings.

Fessenden also led the Eagles offense with two hits and three RBIs and scored a run. Madison Dutton added two hits and two RBIs.

Cassidee White led the Orchard View offense with two hits.

Coletta believes his team’s experience from advancing to the regional finals a year ago will help them next weekend.

“The experience of playing in a regional last year will be a benefit,” the coach said. “There is nothing that can happen on the softball field that we haven’t seen or faced in an opponent.

“We have played some good, strong teams these last couple years, and we should have the confidence, having been in those situations before.”