Throughout their inaugural season, the Ridgefield Raptors have reaped the rewards of a blowout and felt the pain of a losing streak.
“I think it’s been great. Being a new team in the league and playing the schedule we’ve played, mainly on the road, I think our guys have handled it well and it’s been a lot of fun for everybody,” Chris Cota, head coach for the Raptors said.
At seven weeks into the 11-week season, the Raptors are fourth in the south division with a league record 17-20.
“I think the play of certain guys, like the three all-star guys, have played well and I think everybody has stepped up to the challenge of the grind of the summer team,” Cota said.
Three Ridgefield Raptors, Carter Benbrook, Michael Hicks and Steve Ramirez were selected for the West Coast League All-Star game slated for Tuesday, July 23 in Bend.
Benbrook, a pitcher, has played and started six games for the Raptors. Of his 35 innings pitched, he has racked up 25 strikeouts and only allowed 10 runs.
Hicks, an outfielder, is one of the Raptors’ most dominant hitters with a batting average of .314. Hicks has slammed five home runs and 32 hits in his 102 at-bats for the Raptors. Hicks is scheduled to participate in the West Coast League Home Run Derby before the start of the All-Star game on July 23.
Steve Ramirez, a catcher, has put up some good numbers when he’s on the other side of the plate, with a batting average of .301. He’s racked up 28 hits and three home runs in his 93 at-bats.
“It’s a great honor and pretty cool to represent the first Raptors squad out there,” Hicks said.
As for the season so far, Hicks said that while they started off strong, the team hit a lull in the middle, “when it usually happens.”
“it’s tough to keep that energy up, but I think we’re kind of hitting our stride again,” Hicks said. “it’s just a long summer.”
Ramirez and Benbrook echoed Hicks’ statements of the midseason lull and long summers. “Summer ball compared to college ball is a totally different grind,” Ramirez said. “While you’re out here it’s just baseball. You’re playing like six sometimes seven days a week.”
Although they are starting to feel the grind, the three talked highly of the experience they’ve had on the team and the people they have met.
“It’s a lot more fun during the summer; You don’t have practice and you’re not worried about your GPA and stuff,” Hicks said when asked how West Coast League summer ball is different than college baseball. “(There’s) Just a lot less to worry about. There’s more opportunities for everybody to get innings and at-bats.”
“It’s been pretty cool getting to know everybody and learn guys’ playstyle. We really cherish those off days. It makes you appreciate the time you do have to get back to your mental state,” Hicks concluded.”
The Raptors are headed into a ten-game run after the all-star game and the group said that remaining consistent in the long streaks has been one of the greatest challenges this summer.
“I think staying consistent to your approach day in and day out,” Hicks said about the adversities of the long months. “You’re dealing with that adversity of being on the road. Don’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.”