After becoming league and district champions in the same season for the first time in school history, the Camas softball players are determined to go the distance.
On Friday at 4 p.m., the Papermakers play Capital or Bonney Lake in the quarterfinals of the bi-district tournament at the Sprinkler Center in Tacoma. And that is the only game that matters to them.
“We can’t look too far ahead. Just take things inning by inning and pitch by pitch,” said senior pitcher and infielder Sarah Nidick. “If we take care of that first goal and win that first game we’re going to state, which is the ultimate goal.”
Camas (17-3) was in this same position in 2011 and failed to capitalize. The opportunity to rewrite history in 2012 makes this the most important week of the season for the Papermakers.
“Last year’s team just expected to go to state. This year’s team is hungry and working hard for it to happen. That’s the huge distinction between this year and last year,” said head coach Ken Nidick. “We just want to keep going after bigger prizes and setting higher goals for ourselves each week. We want to see what’s behind door number three. We already knocked down one and two.”
The Papermakers defeated Kelso 5-2 in the district title game Friday, in Kelso. Amee Aarhus led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk and came around to score on a double by Lena Richards. Erin Tauscher and Hannah Welborn also drove in runs to give Camas a 3-0 advantage to start.
“I got on base and Lena hit me right in, which was huge on her part. Our job as the one and two hitters is to execute and be the first to score,” Aarhus said. “Getting those three runs right off the bat just set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Camas right fielder Kirsten Langdale threw a Kelso runner out at home plate. Nidick knocked in a run in the fifth inning and Aarhus added an RBI in the sixth. It was more than enough run support for pitcher Harli Hubbard. She limited the Hilanders to just five hits in seven innings pitched, while gaining 10 strikeouts.
“It was so cool to be out on that mound pitching in the most important game of the season,” Hubbard said. “I felt really confident. I knew my team was behind me every step of the way.”
After a disappointing end at bi-districts last year, the Papermakers have come full circle. This time, they want to finish what they started.
“You never want the season to come to an end. That’s the fun thing about great teams and great seasons,” said coach Nidick. “For us, we want it to end playing our best ball in the last game of the season. If that happens to be on Saturday, and we know we played our best game, we can live with it. But if we are playing our best ball, teams are going to have a tough time beating us.”