The Camas-based Greenberry Lady A’s 12U softball club players don’t tend to display a lot of emotion, even after winning big games.
But after shortstop Gracie Olmos caught the final out of the USA Softball of Washington 12UB State Tournament, held July 1-3 at the Vancouver Girls Softball Association (VGSA) Salmon Creek Sports Complex in Vancouver, the team members’ true emotions were on full display.
“(Olmos) started sobbing, and everybody circled around her, and they all hugged,” said assistant coach Lila Chambers. “It was a pretty awesome moment. They’re young, so one of the things that we are focusing on is getting them to have more of a voice.”
The team won seven of its eight tournament games, including its last two against the Cowlitz County Devils in the championship round.
“I am in disbelief,” said Chambers, whose husband, Rob, is the team’s head coach. “I think I’m finally wrapping my head around the fact that they did this. They have so much heart, and play with so much passion, and they are so talented, so it’s not a surprise. But it has been really beautiful to see them all come together as a team, not just as ballplayers, but as teammates.”
Going into the tournament, the Lady A’s weren’t entirely confident that they would come out on top, even though they sported a 26-9 record.
“We know that these girls can perform at a high level, but we don’t always know which team is going to show up — the ones that perform or the ones (who have) a rough weekend,” said Chambers, a Camas resident. “We’re pretty confident in their skills, and they’ve definitely had a lot of growth in the season. But coming into the tournament, we probably had the hardest draw, so we knew going in that it was going to be a tough go. I don’t think they expected (to win). Clearly, they wanted it. But I don’t think they went in expecting to win state.”
The Lady A’s opened tournament play with a 5-3 win over the (Tri-Cities) Mizuno Maniacs, but were then sent to the consolation bracket with a 10-6 loss to Cowlitz County.
They finished the first day of the tournament with a 9-1 victory over Sabotage Northwest (Centralia) and an 8-1 victory over the NW Thunder (Vancouver).
“The first day, we looked a little tired toward the end,” assistant coach Joel Greene said. “We were flat.”
But they returned to the field the next day with a renewed focus.
“There was something that changed in them on Sunday,” assistant coach Bryan Blehm said. “They showed up ready to play ball.”
They defeated the Maniacs 7-5, then rallied for an 11-10 win over the Rampage Explosion (Vancouver) to advance to the championship round and earn a rematch with the Devils, who had won their first three tournament games by a combined score of 44-9.
But they were no match for the Lady A’s, who posted wins by scores of 16-8 and 8-4 to claim the state title.
“It was like everything we went over just clicked in two games,” Greene said. “One of our girls said, ‘This doesn’t even feel like a championship game,’ because (the team) was so relaxed. We started off both games on fire. We started off the first game with six hits in a row and got on to them, and in the second game, we went up 4-0, and the girls were like, ‘Wow, I think we have their number now.'”
“The players did it all,” Chambers added. “They recognized if somebody was down or needed a little pick-me-up. They called their own timeouts, held their own huddles. (The coaches) literally just sat back with our legs folded and watched.”
The Lady A’s recorded 107 hits for a .414 batting average during the tournament.
“What made this exciting was that it was literally a team effort,” Blehm said. “If we had been missing one person, we wouldn’t have won. Whether it was a clutch base hit at the bottom of the lineup or a (tough) outfield catch, everybody contributed. For me, it was exciting to see everyone’s contributions at a state level.”
“And a lot of them play multiple positions, which was key for us because we had so many injuries,” Chambers added. “(One player) had a sprained ankle. One of our pitchers had a pulled muscle in her back in the first game, so she wasn’t able to pitch all day Saturday and the first three games on Sunday. That really forced us to have to adjust and move girls into different positions. They are very diverse players.”
The Lady A’s are part of the Greenberry A’s club organization, which also includes three youth baseball teams and a 10U softball squad. Their roster includes players from all over Clark County, including Camas (Norah Chambers, Jameson McNeley, Molly Walsh and Elliana Wittler) and Washougal (Olmos). They play and practice at Greenberry Field in Fern Prairie.