Do you believe in miracles?
The Camas High School softball team did when nobody seemed to believe in them.
Now, people have a reason to believe.
On Thursday and Friday at Fort Vancouver High School, the Papermakers defeated Mountain View 10-6, Prairie 7-2 and Kelso 9-5 to capture their first district championship.
“During the games, it felt like we all just clicked,” said senior third baseman Mariah Jimenez. “There were some girls on this team who just decided to pull it all out and start hitting. It was a great time for us to put it all together. I was amazed.”
“This group of girls is one of the best teams I’ve ever played on,” said senior shortstop Erin Carson. “We all have a common goal. We don’t say it, we just do it.”
The motto for the Papermakers in 2011 is “start strong, stay strong, finish strong.” The girls have really lived up to that potential in the last four games of a 6-game winning streak.
It all started with a 7-run comeback victory over Kelso in the final game of the season. Camas clinched third in league and earned an automatic bid into the bi-district tournament, but the Papermakers wanted more.
First, they knocked off Mountain View Thursday to get a shot at longtime archrival Prairie. Erin Tauscher and Brindl Langley each delivered three hits. Sarah Nidick drove in three runs on two hits and pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win on the mound.
Against the Falcons Friday, Tauscher smashed a 2-run home run and Langley added a pinch hit 2-run double to put the game out of reach. Camas pitcher Harli Hubbard baffled the Prairie hitters. She allowed just one earned run and two hits in seven innings pitched, while gaining 10 strikeouts.
Finally, the championship game with Kelso arrived. The Papermakers proved their win over the defending state champions four days ago was not a fluke by racking up 16 hits and scoring 9 runs.
Mikaela Searight drove in three runs on four hits and Langley knocked in two runs on three hits. Nidick and Cali Mulholland each had three hits. Nidick gutted it out on the mound for another seven innings to pick up her second win of the tournament.
“I remember the last six outs, and getting closer and closer with each one,” Jimenez said.
“When Jamie [Carter] made that last catch in the outfield, the ball was like in slow motion,” Carson said.
The win awards Camas with a favorable seed into the bi-district tournament Friday and Saturday, in Tacoma. Head coach Ken Nidick hopes the girls are ready to go Friday, at 4 p.m.
One more win, and the Papermakers are on their way back to state. On the loser’s side of the bracket, they would have to win three games just to get to state.
“The path to further greatness is going to be harder,” said coach Nidick. “District championships are great. We’ve never had one before. Playing for a state championship is what it’s all about.”
Jimenez was 9-years-old when the Camas softball team captured the state championship in 2002. Since then, she has dreamed of the day she would lead the Papermakers out on to the diamond.
The time to believe is now.
“Everyone wants to beat Kelso and everyone wants to beat Prairie,” she said. “I want Camas to be the team everyone wants to beat.”