The Camas High School (CHS) slowpitch softball team was down by two runs in the seventh inning of its home game against Washougal High School (WHS) on Sept. 25.
After the Papermakers managed to get two players on base, senior Sophie Franklin stepped up the plate. After the game, the team captain and first-team all-Greater St. Helens League selection from a season ago said that all she wanted was a base hit because of her confidence in the Cassie Templer, the next batter.
Templer didn’t get the chance to come through. She didn’t need to.
“The pitch came in and it looked like a meatball, so I just kind of swung my heart out and just hoped it went over,” Franklin said.
Franklin’s home run, the first of her career, gave CHS an 8-7 win. On the following day, CHS destroyed Evergreen High School 19-0 to push its record to 10-2 (6-0 league).
The Papermakers are among the best teams in the state. Last season, CHS won the District 4 title with an 8-7 victory over R.A. Long. This season, slowpitch softball has been officially sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), which will hold a tournament in November.
The CHS roster includes fastpitch players like Franklin and Alison Snyder, but also includes year-round basketball players Chloe Parker and Katelynn Forner, who played slowpitch for the first time last season.
Franklin, the team captain, says slowpitch is the perfect way to introduce athletes to softball.
“I just hope it helps them get a love for this sport, not just slowpitch but fastpitch as well,” she said. “It’s a really good sport that keeps you in shape and gives you friendships for the rest of your life. I just want people to love this sport until they can’t play it anymore.”
The number of players turning out for slowpitch has grown at CHS each year. Papermakers coach Mandy Cervantes says slowpitch is great for the CHS fastpitch team, which she also coaches.
“It’s great to see more girls out here playing,” Cervantes said. “But likewise it’s great to see our fastpitch girls playing because we have more opportunity to work on their defensive skills.”
Batting is much different in slowpitch than fastpitch because batters hit balls that drop from up to a 12-foot arc. Even so, Cervantes says the sport helps everyone learn to make contact with the top part of the ball to drive it into the outfield instead of hitting the bottom part of the ball for a flyout.
Cervantes, a 2002 CHS graduate, was a member of the team that brought the school its first and only fastpitch softball state championship in 2002.
“I did say in our postgame meeting (after the WHS game), ‘I know you all have your east-side rivalry with Union High School, but I bleed red and black through and through, and just so you know, this here is the real rivalry, Washougal and Camas,'” Cervantes said.