Ocosta outslugs Toledo, 13-2, to stay alive in district 2B softball

CENTRALIA — If you haven’t had the chance to see Ocosta softball in action this season, Thursday’s district loser-out game showed why the Wildcats have a good chance to become a state qualifier next week.

Helped early on by Toledo’s fielding miscues, Ocosta’s batters swung through and outslugged the Indians for five innings for a dominant 13-2 victory at the District IV 2B softball tournament at Borst Park in Centralia.

On Saturday, Ocosta (21-2) will take on Adna in a winner-to-state game at 1 p.m. A win for the Wildcats will send them into the third-fourth place game at 5 p.m. A loss will send them into a winner-to-state/loser-out fifth-place game at 3 p.m.

“This program has come a long way; we won one game in my first year here and now we’ve won 21,” Ocosta head coach Jason Barnum said. “We’re proud to be playing on Saturday. All we need is one (win) out of two to go to state. We’ve done a lot of things for the first time this year — 21 wins overall, two wins at district, a league title. I like our momentum.”

The Wildcats’ bats were on full display, but it took an inning before they shined. The Indians helped Ocosta by committing three fielding errors in the first inning to push four runs across in the first inning.

Leading 4-0 in the second inning, a fielding error and a fielder’s choice put two runners on for sophomore slugger Kaylee Barnum. On a 3-0 pitch, Barnum hit a high fly ball to left field. Toledo’s Meeghan Peters gave chase and crashed through the outfield fence as the ball cleared it — a 3-run home run for Barnum and a 7-0 Ocosta lead.

Barnum added a solo home run in the fourth and fifth innings for a hat trick and to finish her day with five RBI — tops among the Wildcats. Kristi Raffelson added three hits, including a double, and three RBI as well for Ocosta.

Slugging outbursts from Barnum, Raffelson and others in the Wildcat lineup have been a normal occurrence this season.

“We won the coin flip and I said we wanted to bat first; that’s what we do is bat,” coach Barnum said. “We pride ourselves in our hitting. We’ve put in a ton of time in the cages, improving our hitting. We’ve spent 20 hours hitting a week. It has paid off.”

In the circle, Erika Snider was the beneficiary of her teammates’ offensive prowess. Forcing Toledo to hit grounders right to infielders, Snider cruised through most of the contest.

The Indians did find a way to get runners on base with two-out hits, but all of them were stranded until the fifth inning. Four straight Toledo hits turned into two runs in the fifth, down 13-0, but Snider and her infielders got the outs to initiate the five-inning, mercy rule finish.

“I thought we had a really good chance if we jumped on them early,” coach Barnum added. “I believe in giving our pitchers plenty of run support. (Erika) does what she does best, keeps the ball down. Once she gets into trouble, she calms down and gets out of it.”

Ocosta 440 32 — 13 10 2

Toledo 000 02 — 2 8 5

Er. Snider and Raffelson; Holmes and Murphy.

RBI: Ocosta — Barnum 5, Fletcher, Raffelson 3, Huerta. Toledo — Murphy. Three hits: Ocosta — Barnum, Raffelson. Two hits: Toledo — Holmes, Cline. Home run: Ocosta — Barnum 3. Double: Ocosta — Raffelson.

Winning pitcher — Er. Snider (four strikeouts). Losing pitcher — Holmes (four strikeouts, four walks).