First crack at state

CHS slow-pitch softball team hopes to make history Saturday, in Richland

Megan Bauer is all smiles after scoring the tying run for the Papermakers Sept. 14, at Skyview High School. Camas rallied to defeat the Storm 6-5 in the last inning of the game.

Camas High School senior Payton Bates catches a fly ball in left field for the Papermakers, while Sophie Franklin (right) and Taija Souki provide assistance. Defense has been key to Camas' 22-0 record this season.

Like waiting on a pitch and lining it for a base hit, patience paid off for the Camas High School softball team this autumn.

After winning more than 80 games and a handful of district championships in the last four fall seasons, the Papermakers are going to play in the first Washington state slow-pitch tournament Saturday, at the Columbia Playfield in Richland.

This eight-team extravaganza features Southwest Washington’s best — Camas, Heritage, Skyview and R.A. Long; and Eastern Washington’s best — Central Valley, Ferris, Mead and University. Games begin at noon, the second round starts at 1 p.m., semifinals are at 2 p.m., and the championship and consolation finals begin at 3 p.m.

Camas head coach Dale Lunde said the talk of going to state goes all the way back to the first practice of the season. On that day, he couldn’t wait to tell the girls that they now have something more to play for other than just pride or to be the best team in Southwest Washington alone.

“We have a chance to make history,” Lunde said. “The team has learned how to hit slow-pitch softball — not just swing at a slow pitch, but look for an outside pitch. Understand that the umpire is calling those high, rainbow pitches as strikes. Get to the back of the batter’s box, and then that shoulder pitch will be a little lower.

“One of the biggest challenges in slow-pitch is getting too anxious and swinging at the first slow thing that comes in there,” he added. “So they have learned to be patient, patient, patient, and it has worked out good.”

Patient to the tune of 22 straight victories this season. Lunde believes the Papermakers won their final 18 games last season. In fact, he figures that Camas has only lost four games in the last four years.

The Papermakers have been waiting on this pitch for a long time. It drifts in their direction Saturday. Batter up.

This story will be updated, and a follow-up from the state tournament will be published in the Thursday, Nov. 2, print edition of the Post-Record.