Welcome to Camas, California Girl.
It was not easy for Amee Aarhus to move from Vacaville, Calif., to Camas in the middle of her junior year of high school. Softball, though, made the transition a little smoother.
Actually, a lot smoother.
Aarhus, the lead-off hitter, batted .495, scored 49 runs in 28 games, drove in 20 runs and also hit two home runs. The Papermakers won the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League and district titles and then became the only Clark County softball team to make it to the final day of the state tournament.
Quite a first season in the Northwest for Aarhus, The Columbian's All-Region softball player of the year.
But first, she had to get over missing home.
"I was devastated. I was leaving my friends," Aarhus said.
She would quickly find new friends, though.
"I figured I could either be depressed and hang my head, or I could try to make something of myself," she said.
She introduced herself at an open workout for softball players prior to the beginning of tryouts.
"They wouldn't say 'Hey Amee.' They would say 'Hey California Girl!' I kept saying my name is Amee," Aarhus said.
She felt she belonged and she said she was accepted immediately by the rest of the Papermakers.
"I was really proud of myself for my stats," Aarhus said. "One of my goals was to lead my team in batting average. In the first at-bat of the season, I got a double. It was a great start. It definitely set the tone for the season."
First, she introduced herself to her teammates. Her performance introduced Amee Aarhus to the rest of Clark County high school softball.
• Batted .495 with 50 hits and 49 runs in 28 games.
• Voted by the 3A GSHL coaches as the league’s co-player of the year.
• Helped Camas to a 22-6 record, which included a 17-2 mark against Southwest Washington opponents. Camas was the only Clark County team to play on the final day of the state tournament.
More about Amee
• She wasn’t so sure about this whole Northwest thing when it snowed during the first week of softball tryouts. “It was definitely a huge climate change.”
• Life in the Northwest: “Now that I’ve made the best of it, so far I really like it.”
• Favorite book: “A Child Called ‘It’ ” by Dave Pelzer. “I couldn’t put it down at night.”
Next year and beyond
• Aarhus, like most talented softball players, can play many positions. Her favorite is catcher. Well, that was not going to happen at Camas this season, not with college-bound senior Mikaela Searight behind the plate. Aarhus, who played second base in 2012, said she will try to convince her coaches to let her be the backstop in 2013.
“Without it, I don’t know where I’d be. It’s something I use to escape, to give it my all. It’s how I let my mind go free.”
— Amee Aarhus describing softball
Rest of All-Region team
• Chelsie Aguigui, sr. Battle Ground: Solid shortstop for 4A GSHL’s second-place team.
• Parker Bonife, sr. Union: Capped career with 3 homers, 9 RBI in final 3 playoff games.
• Shannon Boyle, so. Ridgefield: Nice combo: Ace of the program also is the clean-up hitter.
• Michelle Brincefield , so. Skyview: Pitcher was named 4A GSHL’s player of the year.
• Taylor Bussey, jr. Prairie: One of most feared hitters, named co-player of the year in 3A GSHL.
• Nicole Kellams, sr. Mountain View: Clutch performance sparked team on magical run to state.
• Makayla Lefever, jr. Woodland: Pitcher led Beavers to 2A GSHL title; named league MVP.
• Alyssa Nance, sr. Prairie: Great glove, great bat — always seemed to come up with big play.
• Sarah Nidick, sr. Camas: Went 10-1 in pitching circle and led Papermakers in home runs.
• Allison Paladeni, sr. Skyview: Led the 4A GSHL champion Storm in average and RBI.
• Mikaela Searight, sr. Camas: All-league catcher led Papermakers with 39 RBI in 28 games.