(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
She knew it all along.
Skyview junior pitcher Michelle Brincefield did not have to be told of her numbers after the Class 4A district softball championship.
"I'm not going to lie. I was counting," she said. "After that first inning, I felt like it was going to be good game for our whole team."
So she started counting her strikeouts Tuesday, and did not stop until she reached 14.
Brincefield led Skyview to a 5-0 victory over Camas, holding the 4A Greater St. Helens League champions to two hits in the shutout.
"This is up there with one of the best games I've ever pitched for Skyview," said Brincefield, who helped the Storm reach the state semifinals as a freshman.
Emily Garcia got an infield single to drive in a run in the first inning, Emily Dobbin drove in another in the fourth, and Madison Anthony drove in a run in the sixth in a balanced attack. The Storm had seven hits -- by seven different players.
Skyview will go to this week's bi-district tournament as the No. 1 seed from Southwest Washington. Camas is No. 2. Both teams hope to advance to the state tournament in Spokane.
Skyview gained some needed confidence in this one. Camas went undefeated in league play, and in one game against the Storm scored 13 runs in an inning to blow open a close game.
"That had to be the worst inning any of us have ever been a part of," Brincefield said. "After that, we had the mentality, 'Don't back down.'"
"Beating Camas is really big, but it's not just the win," Garcia said. "It's that we came together to play as a team."
That did not go unnoticed by Skyview coach Kim Anthony.
"To see them believing in themselves again is really important," she said.
Garcia, the cleanup hitter not known for her speed, got it started for the Storm with a two-out, high chopper over the Camas pitcher's head to score Dobbin to make it 1-0 in the first.
"On hits like that, or even pop flies, I'm going to run my butt off to first base," Garcia said. "You never know. I'm going to hustle. I take on the mentality of a slapper. I have to get there."
In this case, she got there, beating the throw for the early lead.
"That was a game-changer," Brincefield said. "Getting the lead in the first inning was big for me."
Brincefield, in fact, struck out the side in order in the bottom of the first.
Skyview got three more in the fourth inning, one on a run-scoring single from Dobbin and two more when a fly ball was dropped for a two-base error.
"We'll talk tomorrow," Camas coach Ken Nidick said, relaying what he told his team after the loss. "I have a 24-hour rule. Then we have the good, the bad, and the ugly. It gives me time to reflect on the game instead of talking via emotion. It wouldn't be a good conversation if I had to talk with emotion.
"It's best to learn from it, process it, and prepare for (bi-district)."
The Storm are rolling into bi-district. Brincefield said she thinks this was the start of something special.
"We're just peaking now," Brincefield said. "You haven't seen Skyview's best softball this year."