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Royal softball earns WIAA Team of the Month

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | June 10, 2024 1:30 AM

ROYAL CITY — Just under two weeks after coming out on top of the 1A State Softball Tournament, another award came in for the Royal softball team — the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Team of the Month award for May.

“Team of the Month from the WIAA is kind of a cap on the season,” Royal head coach Lisa Lawrence said. “After winning state and going through all of our challenges this spring, it just felt good to finish things off with the accolade of winning that award.”

The WIAA gives out awards for each of the six classifications, with Royal earning the 1A classification’s award; fellow Team of the Month winners last month were the Emerald Ridge girls track and field team (4A), the West Seattle baseball team (3A), the Burlington-Edison boys golf team (2A), the Saint George’s boys and girls track and field teams (2B) and the Garfield-Palouse girls track and field teams (1B). Each of the winning teams won state titles last month.

Royal won the same award in April 2023.

“I think it just goes to show that we’re trying to build a level of consistency and repetition in the program — that we don’t just have one good year, we’re trying to build a program from the ground up so that we can have repeat teams that are successful and doing the right things,” Lawrence said. 

Contributing factors in receiving a Team of the Month award include on-the-field success, achievements in the classroom and giving back to the community. 

Royal won the 1A softball title as a No. 8 seed, defeating No. 9 Klahowya 10-0 in the opening round, No. 1 Montesano 6-4 in the quarterfinals, No. 4 Cedar Park Christian 6-4 in the semifinals and No. 6 Seton Catholic 16-4 in the championship game.

“Once we got to state we’d seen tough teams and we’ve seen tough situations, and I think that really led to the perseverance at the state tournament,” Lawrence said. 

With their entire lineup contributing on the weekend — posting a team batting average of .381, and on-base percentage of .459, 43 hits, eight doubles, three triples and a home run — Lawrence noted the team’s early-season schedule in preparing them for a state tournament run.

“We had a really tough regular season — we played some really good competition, which at times the win-loss record didn’t come out in our favor, but I think we were in it for the process,” Lawrence said. “The girls kept their heads high, kept plugging away and working hard at practice.”

An emphasis on striving in the classroom is also placed within the Royal softball program.

“We start the season by letting the girls know that the classroom is a top priority,” Lawrence said. “They know going into it that they have our support as far as classwork, grades — all of that takes priority over everything we do on the softball field.”

To give back to the community, the program hosts a clinic for youth players around the area in the spring, players volunteer to assist and coach local teams and umpire for the Columbia Basin Girls Softball Association.

“There’s lots of ways to give back and grow in the softball community,” Lawrence said. “It’s fun that they’re doing more than just playing.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com. 

    Royal senior Raegan Wardenaar waits for a pitch during a March 29 game against Eastmont.