Coach Robert Hartman will soon be sporting green hair to mark the Redmond Little League softball majors all-star team’s recent state championship title.
Hartman’s daughter and team member, Abby, will get to do the honors of dyeing dad’s hair in Redmond’s team color on Wednesday, the day before the team flies to San Bernardino, California, to represent Washington in the West Regional tournament.
At state, the girls played seven games in six days to notch the crown in Ridgefield with a 10-0 victory over Northshore Little League. The locals suffered one loss early in the tournament to Northshore, but rebounded with a string of wins in the losers bracket and then a double victory over Northshore to seal the deal.
To trigger the final game, Redmond eked out a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Northshore that set the crowd alight. With the score tied 1-1, Livy Ruess bunted her way on base and stole a pair of bases to land on third. Abby Hartman then slapped a fielder’s choice to the right side to score Ruess.
“I’m telling you, the place went crazy. It was just so tight and so intense,” said coach Hartman.
Ruess said the one-run win was nerve-racking because they knew a loss would be the end of the line. It was difficult and it was fun for the talented team that works well together, she added.
“We just had to try and learn from our loss and get better each time we played,” Ruess added.
Redmond (9-1) — which beat Issaquah, 13-0, to notch the district title — will play its first game at regionals at 4 p.m. on July 24 against Alaska. The local squad consists mainly of 11- and 12-year-olds.
The top two finishers of the 12-team tournament qualify for the Little League World Series in Greenville, North Carolina. The regional tourney features teams from Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Southern California, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Northern California, Utah and Washington.
Coach Hartman discussed the team’s reaction to winning state and what steps they’ll take next: “I will tell you that over the moon is an understatement. On the other hand, when we get back to work and start practicing again, one of the things we’ve made sure to do is focus on our job and doing that to the best of our abilities without getting too high.”
The coach added that Redmond has a multitude of keys to its success. With third-base coach and manager Casey Ruess at the helm, the locals’ aggressive runners were a nightmare for opposing teams by rampaging on the basepaths and stealing 44 bases at state. On the pitching front, Redmond boasts strong hurlers in Addy Ruess, Mia Perez and Ainsley Barcalow. Kati Cygan also pitches, but catching comes first for the standout who allowed only four stolen bases and packs a wallop with her bat. Livy Ruess was stellar at second base at state, getting heaps of action when hitters pushed balls her way against Redmond’s powerful pitchers.
Right fielder Hartman explained what makes Redmond roll: “I think what’s really special is, no matter if we’re winning or losing, we always have the energy really really high in the dugout, so we’re always having fun. One of the players on my team, I’ve never seen her with a frown on her face — ever. Even when we lost.”
Along with the players encouraging each other when on the field and up at bat comes the slogan, “See Ball, Hit Ball Hard,” to increase the energy when runs are needed, Hartman added.
Addy Ruess said that when she resides in the pitchers’ circle, she exudes confidence when unleashing her changeup, riser and more.
“(I’m) just smiling and knowing that my defense has got my back and I can just let the hitter hit the ball and trust my teammates,” said Ruess, adding that the Redmond players enjoy cracking jokes and playing loose during their softball summer.
Coach Hartman added that the girls are coachable, fun and willing to battle through adversity. Every team member plays hard and tough to get the job done, he noted.
On Thursday morning, they’ll board a plane together and fly to San Bernardino for some more softball action. Immediately after arriving at the sports complex — which features copious fields and dorms for the teams — the 13 players, three coaches and three chaperones will take a COVID test, and they’ll be tested every other day of the tournament. Everyone will need to mask up throughout the tournament, except when the players are on the field.
Visit the team’s GoFundMe page at: https://tinyurl.com/nyzsnryp
For more information on the West Regionals, visit https://www.littleleague.org/region/west-region/tournaments/