Camas softball coach Dale Lunde knew he was asking a lot from his ace pitcher when he started her against Skyview on little rest last week.
Kennedy Ferguson had just pitched a tough game the night before, losing a really tough one to Battle Ground on Tuesday, April 17.
Camas lost the lead in the eighth inning against Battle Ground, and wound up losing 6-4. Ferguson threw 18 strikeouts that night, and came back the next evening to strike out Skyview.
“I’m always concerned when a player has a high pitch count and is then asked to pitch the very next day,” Lunde said.
Those concerns eased a bit in the first inning, when the Camas team showed off its offense. Kyli Obermiller stepped up to the plate and hit her first home run of the season, driving in two runs to put the Papermakers on the board.
“It was really nice. I wasn’t expecting it at all and was just trying to get a hit for my team,” Obermiller said.
Camas racked up eight hits in the game. Sophie Franklin had three hits in the game and Abbi Wong racked up two hits.
“Our hits were timely today and that’s something we always talk about is getting timely hits when you need them. Many of those hits came with two outs and runners on base and there is no doubt that is timely,” Lunde said.
Ferguson threw a mix of pitches with speed and movement and Skyview could only manage two hits in the Camas shutout. Ferguson will play softball for the University of New Mexico Lobos in the fall.
“It feels really good. I feel really good on the mound. It’s my last season before I go on to something bigger and I really want to end my high school career with a bang,” Ferguson said.
Pre-game rituals and a lucky green gnome
The Papermakers have many new faces this year, but the team is quickly gelling.
“Before this game we talked about hustle and talking it up in the dugout and just those little things that can help you when things are not going so good for you,” Lunde said. During the game, the Papermakers were nearly as loud as the hip-hop music they use to warm up, in what has become a beat-pounding pre-game ritual.
Turns out, there’s another “little thing” that just might be helping the players’ confidence when they step up to the plate — a little green gnome.
Softball players have long had reputations for being superstitious and this Camas team is no exception. Every time the umpires go out to talk with the coaches during a game, that’s the players’ cue to grab the gnome and run behind the dugout.
Obermiller is the unofficial holder of the gnome.
“Yes, I’m always the one who holds him, and then as a team we say a little prayer and then we have a little cheer. It’s something we’ve always done during all home and away games,” Obermiller said.
Asked if the gnome has a name, Obermiller and teammate Payton Bates looked a bit confused.
“Does our gnome have a name?” Bates yelled out to everyone in the dugout.
Turns out, the little green gnome doesn’t have a name. Coach Lunde said he always wondered what the little, green gnome was doing there, sitting next to the bats.
“I’ve seen that little guy in the dugout, but had no idea he was a lucky gnome,” Lunde said, laughing. “I guess we’ve got that little guy going for us, so that’s one up on most teams right there.”