A love for the game took this little softball team from Camas all the way to the finals of the 8- to 10-year-old all-star state tournament in Chehalis.
“We didn’t win any games at state last year, so our goal was just to win one,” said manager Rochelle Gittings. “To win three games and make a whole week out of it is something these girls are never going to forget.
“We are so proud of them,” she added. “Hopefully it shows that Camas Little League has a softball program, and a really good one.”
Camas got off to a great start by beating North Seattle 10-0 in the first game. Samantha Gittings pitched a perfect game. She struck out 13 of the 15 batters she faced.
“It’s something special to share with my teammates,” she said. “I couldn’t have done that without them.”
Kendall Mairs hit a pair of inside-the-park home runs to help Camas defeat North Kitsap 11-1. Mercy Canifax and Reagan Jamison also made their presence felt at the plate and on the base paths.
“It took a lot of hard work, determination and teamwork,” Canifax said. “When one person got down, the whole team would bring them back up.”
After every game, Grace Barsness remembers going back to the campground the team stayed at during the tournament and “celebrating like crazy.”
The fun continued at camp as the girls played a variety of games to keep their competitive juices flowing. All the time they spent together was a reward for their hard work.
“It made us better softball players and better friends,” Keira Williams said.
Before every game, Jamison led her teammates and coaches in a prayer.
“Thank you for helping us get this far,” she would say. “Please help us win this game, have good hitting, pitching, fielding and hearing.”
Kirkland got the best of Camas 6-1 in the semifinals, but the girls didn’t give up. They bounced back with a 4-0 victory against Mukilteo. Gittings gained 13 more strikeouts.
Camas hung tough with Kirkland in the championship game. Kirkland then scored five runs in the last inning and won 6-0.
A commitment to each other helped this Camas all-star softball team win districts and finish second at state. Coaches Heather Mairs and Gittings thanked these girls and their families for their dedication.
“It’s exciting for me to see that they love this game as much as we do,” Gittings said.
“They worked hard, they listened, they tried, and their whole families were along for the ride,” Mairs said.
Looking back at her own childhood, Gittings said she has softball to thank for the friendships she has today. She hopes these young Camas softball players never lose that love for the game and for each other.
“I don’t remember the trophies or the wins and losses, I remember the fun and the time with friends,” Gittings said. “That’s what I want for these girls, to have lifelong friendships through softball.”