As a child, Lillian “Lily” Mittmann would watch her older brother pack up for little league baseball practices.
Mittmann attended all of her brother’s, Cody Knight, games and practices.
“As the little sister, I always wanted to be like my big brother,” she said.
One day, he asked if she’d be interested in trying softball. She responded with “why not?”
Fast forward more than a decade and Mittmann wrapped up her senior softball season in May for the Ridgefield High School Spudders. She will continue to compete in the fall for the University of Providence in Great Falls, Mont.
From Mittmann’s freshman and sophomore seasons to her upperclassman season, the softball team experienced a major shift.
Dusty Anchors coached the Spudders’ softball team for several years, but he died in 2019 after a battle with heart disease.
Mittmann, along with her teammates, formed a close bond with Anchors and so the team’s demeanor changed after he died. Everyone played their hardest out of respect for their late coach.
“We did everything out of respect for (Anchors),” Mittmann said. “We also kept the traditions we would do on game day.”
Anchors loved music by the rapper and singer Pitbull. Before every game, he would play one of Pitbull’s songs and the team would dance along to it, she said.
Mittmann remembers Anchors’ signature phrases, like “hubba hubba” and “we’re burning daylight.”
“It was something that happened in such a sudden way that it just brought the team together,” she said. “Even the girls who graduated still came back to watch our games. We’re like a family.”
Anchors’ daughter helped coach in 2020 and the team faced yet another tidal wave — the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coach at the time brought them inside and broke the news that the season was being pushed for six weeks. It ended up being canceled altogether.
Mittmann said her teammates saw the cancellation as a chance to work on their skills and improve for the next season.
“We pushed and we pushed. We just played together,” she said.
During the off-season, the team would practice hitting, play on club teams and sometimes scrimmage each other.
This year, the Ridgefield Spudders qualified for the district tournament. For Mittmann’s last high school game against Columbia River, she hit two home runs back-to-back with her teammate and friend Kekai Schultz, who hit one homerun. To follow, freshman Elizabeth Peery also hit a homerun and it was game over.
The season kicked off with a game against R.A. Long High School on March 27. The team ended the season with an overall 14-2 record.
“I was able to talk with the younger teammates and put them under my wings like the seniors had done for me when I was a freshman,” she said.
Mittmann played as a centerfielder, shortstop and third baseman for the Spudders. She grew up playing on club teams for softball, so once she made it on the high school team, it became easy to move around positions.
For club tournaments and games, she’d play all year and travel to places like California, Arizona and Texas.
“As long as I was on the field, I was always happy,” Mittmann said.
Mittmann remembers growing up in the cornfield-filled town of Ridgefield before housing developments replaced them. She knew “everyone” on the recreational sports teams as well as the neighbors down the street.
“Ridgefield has been super homey and comforting to me throughout all these years,” Mittmann said.
Outside of softball, Mittmann played soccer for three years for Ridgefield.
When Mittmann was in eighth grade, she met an assistant softball coach from the University of Providence.
“I was luckily able to get some pointers from her,” she said.
They kept in contact throughout high school and Mittmann was overjoyed to receive a letter of intent in March to play on the University of Providence softball team.
Mittmann is stuck between deciding to study physical therapy or forensics, but either way, she wants to minor in business.