There was a time when the Camas softball team was 10-0, looking like the squad that just missed a state championship the previous year, looking like the roster that was determined to make it back to the state tournament.
Then there was a league loss. Then another. And one more.
Just like that, the Papermakers were in danger of not even making it to the district championship game.
Then Harli Hubbard happened.
Hubbard struck out 15 batters in a one-hitter on a Monday. Then 15 more strikeouts with another one-hitter on Tuesday. Yes, 15 strikeouts again on Wednesday, again with a one-hitter. The Papermakers won three in a row to tie for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title, setting themselves up for a district title.
The next day, Hubbard struck out 13 as the Papermakers took the top seed from Southwest Washington.
Four days. Four wins. Hubbard threw 28 innings and struck out 53 batters. It was a week of the ages toward the end of a pretty awesome season. Her performance makes her The Columbian’s All-Region softball player of the year.
“I was mentally and physically ready for that week,” Hubbard said. “It was hard, but I was ready for it.”
Hubbard, after a talk with her dad, dialed down a bit with her fastball.
“I wasn’t throwing as hard, but I was hitting my spots,” she said. “That’s what made me successful.”
She knew things were going well that week, but she had no idea how many strikeouts she had accrued until it was all over.
“Oh my gosh. That’s a lot,” she remembered thinking.
There was no dream finish at state. Camas made it to Spokane but failed to earn a trophy.
Hubbard said she learned a lot about herself that day, the way she carries herself. There was one bad inning that kind of wiped away Camas’ chances in the first round, and Hubbard said she did not handle it well.
“I need to learn to have a poker face,” she said.
So she will work on that while she continues to train her body for college. She is leaving for North Carolina State in August. She already has the Wolfpack’s 10-week summer workout schedule.
“That will be my summer,” Hubbard said. “I want to come in ready for the team.”
Hubbard showed this season that when she is ready, she can be overpowering.
Columbian All-Region softball team
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Harli Hubbard, sr., Camas
She is known for pitching. After all, she finished the season with a 1.36 ERA with 224 strikeouts in 129 innings. But she can hit, too, leading the Papermakers in HRs and RBIs.
Rest of All-Region team
SHANNON BOYLE, SR., RIDGEFIELD: Class 2A GSHL coaches voted ace pitcher the league’s best defensive player.
TEAGHAN COWLES, SO., COLUMBIA RIVER: Plays demanding position — catcher — and also has incredible combination of speed and power on offense.
EMILY DOBBIN, SR., SKYVIEW: One of the best athletes in the region, she shined at shortstop and was a threat to score every time she was up to the plate.
ABBY ENGLAND, FR., LA CENTER: Voted Trico League’s MVP, which is saying a lot in a league full of talent.
JESSICA FLANAGAN, SO., WOODLAND: Three-sport star helped Beavers to third-place finish at Class 1A state tourney.
BAILEY GASPAR, SR., MOUNTAIN VIEW: Always one of biggest bats, she capped her career with league MVP.
ALEXIS KRON, JR., UNION: Consistent bat with big-play ability, she helped Titans to a co-league title.
BRITTANY LANGDON, SR., BATTLE GROUND: How’s this for a legacy? Helped Tigers to first trip to state tournament.
NICOLE O’HAVER, SR., PRAIRIE: Falcons went on another trophy run at state, with O’Haver leading the way.
LENA RICHARDS, SR., CAMAS: Great bat and great glove. Infielder only had one error all year. Next: Akron U.
MORGAN SPIETH, SO., UNION: Earned co-MVP status for 4A GSHL after leading Titans to a co-championship.