The Camas High School softball team has not been able to practice since March 17.
For the first time following a year of rain outs and excessive road trips through the state tournament, it’s had nothing to do with the weather. Since March 21, the Papermakers have played a game every school day.
“Our new outfield drainage is dynamite on all four fields,” said head coach Ken Nidick. “We’ll play when most other schools are rained out. It’s nice to see the school district putting money behind the kids.”
Camas defeated Mountain View 3-2 Monday to finish the first week of the season with a record of 4-1. The Papermakers went hitless for four innings, before senior Mariah Jimenez sent a sizzling fastball into orbit for a home run to lead off the fifth.
“When Mariah is relaxed and focused, she’s one of the best hitters in the county,” Nidick said.
Following Jimenez’s blast, Camas loaded the bases with no outs and turned it into two more runs.
“It felt good to really crack it open, and score more runs,” Jimenez said.
A comfortable 3-0 lead for the Papermakers was nearly in jeopardy, when the Thunder loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh. Jimenez said it was no time to panic.
“Our defense is top notch. We haven’t ever been this cohesive,” she said. “No matter what type of stress is put on us, I trust that we will get the job done. Just bare down, and get the outs.”
Camas got two sure outs at first base, but Mountain View scored two runs. The next batter hit a hard ground ball to the short stop with runners on the move to home and third base. Erin Carson stayed with it, and threw the runner out at first base for the final out of the game.
“It’s never easy,” Nidick said. “And the moment you think it’s easy, you get a game like that where it’s a nail-bitter all the way to the end.”
Starting pitcher Sarah Nidick tossed seven gutsy innings for the Papermakers, on 96 pitches. The Thunder had runners on base in every inning, but could only get two of them around to score.
“Sarah made some great pitches, and had great defense behind her,” said coach Nidick. “We were hitting the ball hard all game, but right at them. In a game like that, you hope you can get a couple runs across and come out with a win. We got one today, but the next time could be different.”
Camas stunned 4A state finalist Heritage 10-9 in eight innings, Wednesday. Mikaela Searight ripped a home run and two triples.
“I love the close ones,” Searight said. “I’ll remember my hits, and how we came back and won it in the eighth.”
The Papermakers scored six runs in the fourth inning, and tied the game up in the sixth, seven and eighth innings. With two runners on and one out in the bottom of the eighth, Nidick drilled a base hit into left field to win the game.
“It’s exciting knowing that this is only the beginning of the season, and we have so much to grow from.” she said. “We have the potential to be so much better than we are now.”
Nidick nailed a 3-run home run to help Camas beat Evergreen 12-2 March 22. Searight went 3-for-3 at the plate and scored twice, and Lena Richards scored three runs.
Jimenez and Nidick combined to drive in nine runs against Washougal March 21. Jimenez went 4-for-5 with a home run, 5 RBI and 5 runs scored. Nidick went 4-for-4 with 4 RBI.
“Our experiences at state last year brought us closer together,” Jimenez said. “Beating Heritage totally boosted our confidence. We think we can contend with anybody now.”