After coaching Ridgefield High School baseball for 32 years, Art Osmundson was honored with the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the city’s new field of dreams Friday.
“In my wildest dreams, I never envisioned anything like this in Ridgefield,” said the 66-year-old Osmundson. “It’s just a beautiful place and it’s not just for Ridgefield High School. The community is going to use these fields forever at all levels.”
While other high schools in Clark County postponed their baseball games following a hail, rain and snow storm Friday, the turf at the new Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC) soaked up the water so the Spudders could play ball and beat the Kalama Chinooks 3-0 in the first game of the season.
Kellen Bringhurst was the first Ridgefield player to round the bases. He led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, stole second base and scored on a double by Josh Masur. Bringhurst came up to bat again in the third and drilled a baseball over the left field fence for a home run.
“Right off the bat, I knew it was gone,” Bringhurst said. “It was just one of those feelings. It felt so good.”
Head coach Nick Allen said it’s 310 feet down the left field line. He believes that ball traveled 330 to 340 feet.
“I wasn’t even looking. I just heard it,” Allen recalled. “And then I heard Camden (Ryder) in the dugout saying, ‘that’s gone.’ We have a few guys who can mash. They want to hit it as hard as they can, and boy oh boy he did.”
Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart made the moment more special by retrieving the home run ball, asking Bringhurst to sign it and putting the ball on display at City Hall.
“It’s cool that I could leave a little legacy behind from Ridgefield baseball,” Bringhurst said.
Catcher Brock Harrison had the best seat behind home plate as Ridgefield pitchers Spencer Anderson and Bringhurst combined to throw a shutout.
“It was kind of surreal. I’m so used to the middle school field,” Harrison said. “It was cool downtown, but it was away from the school and all the houses that are being built out here. Now people are closer to the field. If they want to watch a ballgame, they can just walk right up here.”
Anderson, Bringhurst, Harrison and Ryder have been playing baseball together in Ridgefield for 10 years. As high school seniors, they hope to lead the Spudders to a top-five finish at state.
“This is our last ride together and we want to make the most of it,” Bringhurst said. “We’re just thankful to the whole city for putting this together and being able to play on this beautiful field.”
Before the Ridgefield Raptors West Coast League baseball team comes to town this summer, Allen encourages residents to be a part of the fun at the RORC this spring.
“I want people to know this is a gathering place,” he said. “We fly that blue flag to let you know that it’s game day and to come here because it’s a cool place to hang out. The community can get together and enjoy baseball.”