By Adam Trombley
The Eagles did as expected as Saturday, beating Coopersville 6-1 in the semifinals and Fruitport 13-5 in the finals to capture the Division 2 district championship at Orchard View High School.
Oakridge, now 34-4 on the season and ranked second in the state, had eight batters combine for 16 hits in the two dominant victories.
But pitcher Brooklyn Galdeen, who has been strong all season, certainly deserves her share of the credit.
Galdeen picked up the win in the championship game, striking out three and walking three. Kaelinn Jozsa came in for relief in the seventh inning and closed the door on the victory. Galdeen also pitched the win over Coopersville.
Oakridge Coach Sharon Schumann gave a big nod to Galdeen, and also to workhorse catcher Andrea Romero.
“Brooklyn Galdeen does a great job for us on the mound,” said Schumann, whose team now advances to regionals next Saturday at Hudsonville Unity Christian. “I think one of our unsung heroes is Andrea Romero. She caught every inning this season, and she does a great job managing two really good pitchers, so her performance has been great behind the plate.”
Offensively, Oakridge started scoring early in the championship game and never stopped.
After scoring a run on a fielding mistake by Fruitport in the first, the Eagles started piling up runs in the third. Delaney Ruel had an RBI triple, followed by Romero with an RBI single, to take a 3-0 lead. Fruitport broke through with a run on an RBI single by Jenna Springstead.
The Eagles scored four runs in the fourth inning with four doubles and a single to extend their lead to 7-1.
The fifth inning was much of the same. Hayden Ruel doubled, two batters walked, Delaney Ruel singled and Romero hit a triple, giving Oakridge an 11-1 lead.
Two more doubles in the sixth added two more runs to the board for the Eagles.
The leading hitters for Oakridge were Hayden Ruel with two doubles; Galdeen with two doubles and a single; Delaney Ruel with a single, triple, and a double; and Romero, who collected five RBIs on two singles and a triple.
With her first district title in hand, Shumann, a first-year coach, celebrated the fact that she inherited a great team with a winning culture that goes back years.
“We were so fortunate to come into a program that was already established, already had an awesome culture, and we’re just excited to be a part of it,” she said. “We also have two awesome seniors who the team just rallies behind, and the team wants to win for.”
Fruitport, which defeated Orchard View 22-0 in the semifinals, ended a season that’s been dotted with missing names from the lineup due to COVID concerns.
“I don’t know if any other team went through what we went through,” said Trojans Coach Bob Dornan. “With COVID, this is only the fifth game that we played with a full lineup. I had JV girls playing that weren’t quite ready for varsity, but they got thrown into the fire and we watched them grow. It’s only gonna help us down the road.”
The leading hitters for Fruitport in the title game were Jenna Springstead with three singles, Kadence Springstead with a single and a double, and Willo Staal with a sacrifice bunt and a single.