Papermakers lose to Arlington in the state championship game

A Camas softball season for the ages

It is not easy winning championship trophies. The Camas High School softball team can attest to that.

The Papermakers defeated Woodinville 2-0 Saturday morning to advance to the championship round of the 4A state tournament, at the Merkel Sports Complex, in Spokane.

Camas pitcher Harli Hubbard held the defending state champions to just two hits in the game. Mackenzie Farnham drove in both runs for the Papermakers.

“You need to enjoy the victory, but the bigger prize is right in front of you,” said head coach Ken Nidick. “You’re in the state championship game.”

A couple of bad breaks for Camas in the championship game gave Arlington, of Snohomish County, the pieces it needed to beat the Papermakers 2-1.

Camas trailed 1-0 when Amee Aarhus led off the third inning with a bunt base hit. She stole second base and came around to score on a triple by Lena Richards. After the play, Arlington threw the ball over to second base and the umpire called Richards out for not touching the base before she made her way to third.

Arlington’s center fielder Marisa Rathart made the play of the game in the fifth inning. She leaped up and tumbled over the fence to rob Katie Schroeder of a home run.

Once again, the Papermakers pressed on. McKinley Johnson delivered a pinch hit double in the seventh inning to turn the line up around, but Camas couldn’t bring her in to score the tying run.

“We got to the game that would have concluded all of our goals for the year,” Nidick said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win the state championship. Dedication and hard work is what gets you those opportunities.”

The Papermakers still had a season for the ages. It was their first appearance in the state championship game since they won it all in 2002. They won 22 games and became league champions in their first year playing in the 4A Greater St. Helens League. Yet in a cruel twist of fate, Camas lost in the district, bi-district and state championship games.

“You can lose in the district and the bi-district championship game and still have another game to play. That’s not the same story at state,” Nidick said. “We finished second out of 50 teams in the state of Washington. We have now been to the state tournament three times in the last five years. I am proud of the hard work and dedication these girls are putting into the sport they love to play.”

Richards hit two home runs to help the Papermakers beat Lake Stevens 6-2 in the first round. Hubbard struck out 13 Vikings to earn the victory.

Camas defeated Central Valley 5-3 in the quarterfinals. Aarhus drove in the leading run in the sixth inning. Schroeder knocked in an insurance run in the seventh.

Nidick had something special to share about seniors Aarhus, Farnham, Alicia Huegli and Erin Tauscher.

Nidick has coached Tauscher since she was in fifth grade. She set a school record by clubbing 6 home runs this season.

“It’s been a pleasure watching her grow from this tiny little kid into a great and powerful catcher,” Nidick said.

Aarhus moved to Camas from California before the start of last season. She has been the firestarter for the Papermakers these past two seasons.

“Her speed, power and passion for the game will be missed,” Nidick said.

Huegli could be counted on for a spot start or a pinch hit. Nidick said she was usually the first one at the ball park every day and the last one to leave.

“Alicia does things that don’t get noticed by the general public,” he said. “Instead of a person who watches things get done, she is the first one to take initiative. That’s the definition of a captain.”

Farnham spent last softball season studying abroad in Germany. Nidick loved having her in the fold this year.

“In big games for us, she produced,” he said. “That’s what you expect out of a senior.”