By David Krueger Herald Writer
Eds. note: The Team of the Year was selected by Herald staff based on first-hand observations and voting by fans.
For high school softball teams this spring, looking over and seeing the Eagles in the dugout across from you was a sign that the next seven innings were going to be rough.
The Eagles shot out to a 7-2 record to start the season. Then Arlington got star pitcher Ronnie Ladines back and the Eagles became even more difficult to beat.
Ladines, who missed the early part of the season with an injured finger, went 16-1 with an earned-run average of 0.17 as she helped stymie Arlington’s opponents on its way to a 4A state championship. The Kent State-bound senior faced 317 batters and struck out 154 of them. She had 55 more strikeouts at the state tournament, where she didn’t allow a single run until the championship game.
Meanwhile, the Eagles really hit their stride offensively. Arlington outscored its opponents 24-1 at the state tournament.
In just half a season Ladines batted .552 with 10 home runs and a slugging percentage of 1.259. She had a 16-game hitting streak and despite missing the first month of the season still put together a season impressive enough to be named The Herald’s Softball Player of the Year.
The dangerous Arlington team was bolstered by Ladines, but was still a force before she was able to return. Senior Hayley Fields stepped up on the mound, going 10-2 for the Eagles and also batting .522 with a 19-game hitting streak over the course of the season.
Arlington’s last loss of the season came on April 26 against Cascade. The Eagles won 11 straight games to close out their season with a state championship.
And it should be pointed out that Arlington didn’t just beat teams, it beat teams with authority. The Eagles had 11 games in which they outscored their opponents by 10 runs or more, including Arlington’s first game at the state tournament in Spokane against Todd Beamer.
Hayden Fields, Hayley’s sister, drove in six of the Eagles’ 12 runs in that game, including what Arlington head coach Dan Eng called “two monster home runs,” as Arlington gave a glimpse of what was to come in the state tournament with a 12-0 win.
Dominant, almost doesn’t feel like a strong enough word.