Each Papermaker on the softball diamond played for the team name on their jerseys and brought home a fourth-place trophy from the state tournament, in Spokane.
“This team right here was the closest team we’ve ever had,” said senior shortstop Tori O’Neill. “In previous years, we were teammates and had people to talk to. This year, we truly were sisters. We’re a family. That’s what got us this far. At the end of the day, we all love each other.”
Camas defeated Gig Harbor 2-0 in the first round Friday. O’Neill scored both runs on base hits by Allie Hancock and Katie Schroeder. Schroeder also pitched a four-hitter with 13 strikeouts.
Alexis Tiedy and Callie Johnson drove in runs during the bottom of the sixth inning to help the Papermakers put the finishing touches on a 3-0 victory against Redmond in the quarterfinals. Schroeder held Redmond to just two hits while gaining six more strikeouts.
Tahoma outlasted Camas 3-2 in the semifinals Saturday. The Bears scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning and went on to become state champions.
“It’s hard because we knew there were many opportunities to take advantage of to place higher, but being one of the last teams at the complex was a good feeling,” Neely said. “We pushed through this far. Let’s make something happen. This tournament was our redemption.”
The Papermakers bounced back with an 8-1 victory over Bethel, capped off by a five-run seventh inning. Emma Jimenez knocked in three runs on three hits. Hancock added a 2-run single. Schroeder delivered three hits and an RBI at the plate to go with another four-hit, 13 strikeout performance from the pitching circle.
“Considering everything that has happened this year, it was a great finish,” Schroeder said. “We battled all of the odds and still came home with a trophy. We accomplished every single goal we set out to achieve.”
Woodinville clipped Camas 3-1 in the final game of the tournament to earn third place.
Tears came after the final out was recorded. It had nothing to do with the outcome and everything to do with the fact that Neely, O’Neill and Schroeder had just played their last game in a Camas uniform. They were all sad that the journey was over.
“There was not a single tear that I shed after that game because we lost,” Neely said. “We were more focused on all 16 girls and screaming our heads off in that last inning.”
Schroeder finished off the state tournament in stunning fashion. She pitched all 36.2 innings, gave up only three runs, 28 hits and gained 44 strikeouts.
“Five consecutive games in the outfield is tiring for me,” Neely said. “I can’t imagine what it feels like to be involved on every pitch.”
Schroeder increased her strikeout record to 261 in 170 innings. She also earned a season best 22 victories.
“Those are fun goals I set for myself, but it’s not what I’m going to remember about this season,” Schroeder said. “People aren’t going to know anything about me, but they’ll remember the team and that they got fourth place at state. I’m going to remember every single girl I played with forever.”
The senior shared advice for current and future Papermakers to follow on the diamond.
“Play where your feet are. Live in the moment,” Schroeder said. “At the beginning, you think the season is going to last forever. When you’re at the end of it all, you’re thinking where did all the time go.”
“Goals will come when you play for the ones around you,” O’Neill said. “Play for the name on your chest, not the number on your back.”
“If you play as a team, a bigger prize will be waiting at the end of the season,” Neely added.