High school baseball and softball seniors from Southwest Washington gathered to celebrate their love for the game Wednesday.
The dynamic rosters provided some interesting moments in both doubleheaders. Camas pitcher Katie Schroeder teamed up with Washougal catcher Madisen Baldwin.
“I’ve been playing against Katie since we were 10,” Baldwin said. “This was our first time being on the same team, and it was a lot of fun.”
Baldwin missed the final five weeks of the season for the Panthers after fracturing her kneecap while making a diving catch at third base. She got healthy and cleared just in time to play in the all-state senior challenge May 31, in Lacey, and the Southwest Washington senior all-star showcase Wednesday, at Clark College.
“I felt like I was home again,” Baldwin said. “It was awesome and surprising because I only played half a season. I’m honored that people still thought of me.”
Baldwin caught in the first game and Schroeder pitched in the second, so fans didn’t get to see a Panther and Papermaker battery pack. Camas shortstop Tori O’Neill stepped into the batter’s box against Schroeder in the second game. O’Neill tipped her helmet toward her longtime teammate and Schroeder smiled.
“That was kind of just like practice,” Schroeder said. “It was just a fun at-bat.”
Still riding high after delivering the decisive 2-run single in the first game, O’Neill dropped down a bunt and beat Schroeder’s throw to the bag for a base hit.
“You play with most of these girls in summer ball. It feels great to play with them one last time and to wear the uniform one last time,” O’Neill said. “I’ll remember all of these girls and the laughter.”
O’Neill hit a line drive off Schroeder in her next at-bat, but Union’s Aisha Ensley made a diving catch in center field to rob O’Neill of a hit.
“She does that to me every time,” O’Neill said.
Both rivals showed a sign of respect to each other on the field after the play was made, before O’Neill returned to the dugout.
“That was just all part of the fun of this event,” Schroeder said. “If Tori would have gotten on base, it would have been awesome. That was just a great catch.”
After the games, the softball players said their “goodbyes” before heading off in different directions.
“I’m glad I got to put the Camas uniform on one more time. When I go home and take it off, I know it’s for real. I have to turn it in tomorrow,” Schroeder said. “I’ll remember all the fun we had out here today. If you take back all the competition and trophies, it’s still a fun game we all love playing. We will always be connected by our love for the game.”
Casteel shines in baseball games
Washougal High School senior Brandon Casteel had the best seat in the house for the Southwest Washington all-star senior baseball showcase.
He got to catch four different pitchers in the first game and delivered an RBI single in the second game.
“I knew these guys were good. I was just trying to hit the first thing they gave me,” Casteel said. “I wasn’t waiting around to get fooled.”
Casteel was also selected to play in the all-state games this weekend, in Yakima. Although he will have to miss Saturday’s event because of graduation, he plans to be in uniform Sunday.
“Being the only player from Washougal out there means a lot to me,” Casteel said. “You hear about how good these guys are. It was nice just to play with them.”
Camas seniors McKinley LeFore and Cameron Pierce teamed up with Casteel at the all-star event against Papermakers Reid Conlee and Sam Jones.
“There’s a lot of talent in this area; it’s just spread out,” Casteel said. “Once you put it all together in one place, it’s pretty cool.”