The Camas High slowpitch softball team took the district title Oct. 17, with an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over R.A. Long.
The district teams were well matched: the Camas Papermakers entered the Oct. 17 tournament, held on the team’s home field, undefeated at 19-0, while the R.A. Long Lumberjacks came in with only one loss — to Camas — on their record.
The Lumberjacks took a 7-6 lead after scoring three runs in the top of the fourth inning. The Papermakers responded with a pair of singles by Hanna Peterson and Lauren Baffaro. Then, Sophie Franklin made contact with the ball, leading to Lumberjack errors. The visiting team overthrew first base and then did the same at home plate, giving the Papermakers an 8-7 lead, which Camas managed to protect for the win.
Slowpitch now sanctioned by the state
This is the first sanctioned year for slowpitch softball in Washington state since the sport was discontinued in 2002.
The newly state sanctioned slowpitch season has attracted many players from the successful Camas fastpitch program. Fastpitch and slowpitch softball share the similar rules. But, in slowpitch, pitchers give the ball a high arc and, instead of using speed to strikeout batters, place spin or no spin on their pitches.
Camas slowpitch pitcher Emery Miller is the only pitcher in the league with 30 strikeouts on the season.
“She’s definitely been a big contributor to the success of this team,” Camas assistant slowpitch coach Don Wolf said of Miller.
Miller doesn’t pitch in fastpitch softball, but said the slowpitch season has helped her be more patient with her batting skills.
“I really think learning patience is huge, and it really carries over to the fastpitch season,” Miller said.
Camas sophomore Cloe Parker finished the Oct. 17 game with two key hits, which led to runs batted in (RBIs).
“I think playing slowpitch is really pretty cool because it helps create a stronger bond for all of us that also play fastpitch,” Parker said.
Players said slowpitch gives the Camas fastpitch players an opportunity to work on fundamentals, sharpen their skills during the off-season and build chemistry.
“It’s a good chance to get to know all the underclassmen because there are multiple teams for fastpitch, so we might not all be on the same team, but now we share a bond from slowpitch,” Camas senior Hanna Peterson said.
New coach returns to alma mater
The Papermakers slowpitch team is being led by first year head coach Mandy Cervantes; a 2002 Camas graduate who was on the school’s first state softball championship team during her senior year.
Cervantes has worked as an assistant softball coach at Union High School the past four years, and said she is thrilled to be back at her alma mater, coaching the Camas girls.
“It’s any coach’s dream to come out and coach for Camas,” Cervantes said. “It’s really great to be back in the community.”
Cervantes also will serve as assistant coach on Camas’ fastpitch softball team in the spring.
The 20-0 Papermakers will now try to go the distance at the double-elimination state tournament Saturday, Oct. 27, in Richland, Washington.