Final showcase

All-stars play once more before graduation

Camas softball players Hannah Welborn and Lena Richards cheer with their teammates during the All-Star Challenge Wednesday. Buy this photo

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Washougal High School senior Brooke Croeni (left) keeps an eye on the plate and the Battle Ground runner leading from first in the All-Star Challenge, at Clark College.

Lena Richards is loud and proud to be a softball player.

After shouting words of encouragement to the Papermakers all season long, the Camas High School senior second baseman was the loudest one in the dugout during the Southwest Washington All-Star Challenge Wednesday, on the Clark College softball field.

“My voice comes and goes, but it always comes back,” Richards said. “Yelling is part of the game. That’s what makes it fun.”

Camas teammates Jennifer Ross and Hannah Welborn joined Richards in the softball showcase, and Brooke Croeni represented Washougal. The baseball All-Star Challenge was going on at the same time across the street, at Propstra Park. It featured CHS seniors Blake Christopher and Reilly Hennessey, and coach Joe Hallead.

“It’s kind of cool to play and be on the same team with girls we’ve known forever,” Ross said. “We were able to make friendships within five minutes of meeting each other.”

“We’re all out here for the same reason, and that’s the love for the game,” Welborn added.

Lots of changes are in store after these Camas and Washougal players graduate this week. Croeni heads to Western Washington University, Christopher continues his baseball career at George Fox University and Hennessey will play football for Eastern Washington University. After coaching Camas baseball for 15 years, Hallead moves to Las Vegas at the end of the month.

Ross and Welborn are going to be dorm roommates at the University of Washington.

“We’re never going to get anything done,” Ross joked. “I’m so thankful that she and I get to keep our friendship, go off to college and experience that together.”

Once Welborn picked up a glove, she was hooked on this game.

“Little did I know, softball would be such a large aspect of my life,” she said. “It helped me grow as an athlete and as a person.”

Richards takes her love for softball and “loud mouth” to the University of Akron, in Akron, Ohio. She will never forget her time as a Papermaker.

“I was still screaming my head off, even though I was balling my eyes out, in that last game,” Richards said.

She will also cherish this final day in the sun with her newfound friends.

“Today, there were so many laughs and smiles that I wasn’t expecting,” she said. “It was a great way to close the final chapter of our lives in high school.”