Sliding into state

Camas softball team earns redemption at bi-district tournament

The 20-4 Camas softball team is back in the state tournament this weekend. The Papermakers play Bainbridge in the first round Friday, at the Regional Athletic Center in Lacey. First pitch is at noon.

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Hannah Welborn dives into home plate for the Camas softball team. After winning the league and district titles, the Papermakers captured second place at the bi-district tournament this past weekend in Tacoma.

A bi-district championship was not in the cards for the Camas girls softball team Saturday.

But what the Papermakers were betting their whole season on was a return engagement into the state tournament. On Friday, they cashed in on that goal by defeating Bonney Lake 9-3 at the Sprinkler Center in Tacoma.

“Last year we were heart broken. After being the district champions, going two and out at bi-districts was horrible,” said senior catcher Mikaela Searight. “This year, we wanted to give our all and win that first game. That was the most important one. A bi-district title would have been nice, but our goal all along was to get back to state.”

Camas pressured Bonney Lake throughout the game, scoring two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings and three more runs in the sixth. Amee Aarhus, Lena Richards and Sarah Nidick each had three of the team’s 14 hits. Richards, Nidick and Katie Schroeder all knocked in two runs, and Aarhus scored three times. Harli Hubbard gave up two earned runs and six hits, while gaining seven strikeouts, in seven innings pitched.

Camas defeated Enumclaw 8-3 in the semifinals Saturday afternoon. Nidick and Hubbard both delivered three hits at the plate. Richards, Searight and Nidick drove in two runs and Aarhus scored three more times. Nidick also pitched five solid innings for the victory and Hubbard shut the door in the sixth and seventh.

The Papermakers dug themselves into a 7-0 deficit against Wilson in the championship game Saturday night, before pushing four runs across the plate in the last two innings.

“We had a heart-to-heart about not getting shut out, and playing with pride and class,” said head coach Ken Nidick. “The girls really responded. I wish we would have had that conversation three innings earlier.”

Some spectacular defensive plays by Wilson killed the Camas rally in the sixth inning. The Papermakers also left the bases loaded in the seventh. When the dust had finally settled, Wilson was victorious 7-4.

“It was fun to play for the championship. We are still on the border between being a good team or a great team,” Searight said. “Great teams play at a high level all the time. We can’t fall apart when another team scores against us. We have to keep playing our game.”

Camas (20-4) begins the state tournament against Bainbridge Friday, at the Regional Athletic Center in Lacey. The first pitch is at noon.

“I’m glad we have the opportunity to go for something big in our senior year,” Searight said. “This is a chance to play some more and to prove ourselves. We want to be the class of Camas. We want to be the Camas team that works hard, hustles, makes big plays and hits the ball hard.”

Coach Nidick and the Papermakers want to be playing softball on Saturday, but they must get by Bainbridge first.

“If you want to be a state champion, you have face the very best teams and find a way to beat them,” he said. “Once you get to Saturday, anything can happen. That would check off the last important goal for these girls, other than winning the whole thing.”