Softball is exciting again in Washougal.
Courtney Shelley threw strikes and let the defense behind her turn double plays and pick off runners on base. She pitched seven shut out innings April 9, and limited R.A. Long to six hits.
“It’s such a weight off my shoulder to know the team has my back,” Shelley said.
There was a ball that got by the infielders, but Sierra Carroll relayed it home from the outfield and Madisen Baldwin tagged the Lumberjill out at the plate.
Baldwin then stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of a scoreless ball game and ripped a double down the third base line.
“I was shaking,” she said. “I’d been in intense ball games before, but this one was off the charts.”
If Baldwin was nervous, imagine how Becca Bennett felt as she stepped up to the plate next.
“First thing coach told me is, ‘you could end this right here. You can win this game for us,’” Bennett said. “No pressure.”
Coach Heather Carver wanted to challenge Bennett because she knew it would bring out the best in her.
“Becca thrives in that situation,” Carver said. “She loves her team and her team loves her. To know she had the opportunity to win the game for us right there gave her all the motivation she needed.”
Bennett locked in and served the ball into right field for a base hit. Baldwin rounded third base and slid into home plate safely.
“Everybody was shocked. I was shocked,” Bennett said. “The look on coach’s face was just priceless.”
The Panthers had just defeated R.A. Long 1-0 for their first league victory and fifth win in a row. It was a moment the Washougal players, coaches and fans will never forget.
“When Madisen dove in and the ball trickled out, I just about lost my mind,” Carver said. “Any time you can play errorless ball like that, those are the games you remember. This was one for the ages.”
Baldwin said she will never forget the reaction from the Washougal crowd when she scored the winning run.
“All I heard was roaring,” she said. “It was great.”
Only nine Panthers played in the game. Besides Baldwin, Bennett, Carroll and Shelley, there was Ashley Carroll, Jackie Cohrs, Brooke Croeni, Savanna Kepner and Savannah McDowell.
“We all brought our ‘A’ game and it was that close,” Shelley said. “The next game is going to be even tougher.”
Ridgefield defeated Washougal 10-3 Friday. The Panthers host Hockinson Wednesday, at 4:30 p.m., at La Center Friday, at 3:30 p.m.
“A lot of people doubt Washougal,” Shelley said.
“We want this to be the year that Washougal came back,” Baldwin added. “It’s going to take hard work and dedication. All of these girls are dedicated to the cause.”
These Panthers have caught of fever of excitement, and it’s contagious. Carver hopes they will continue to fight for a spot in the playoffs.
“These girls are competitive and they want to win,” she said. “You can see it every time they step on the field. They expect success. And when success comes, they just want more.”