Harli Hubbard said she feels like the old Harli Hubbard is back.
That’s a good thing for the Camas Papermakers.
A scary thing for the rest of the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League.
Of course, through six games in the 4A GSHL softball season, no one seems scared of anyone.
Hubbard struck out 11 and gave up no earned runs Monday in Camas’ 2-1 victory over Skyview. It was a matchup of what most coaches thought were the two best teams in the league, going into the season.
Now, just past the mid-point of league play, four teams are tied for first place. Camas and Skyview have split their two games and are both at 4-2. They are joined there by Union and Battle Ground. Evergreen, meanwhile, has had a big win and came real close to a win over Camas. Heritage is winless, but Skyview needed a two-run, last-inning rally to beat the Timberwolves.
“It’s a whole lot more interesting than I thought it was going to be,” Hubbard said. “Everyone is putting up a battle.”
Skyview coach Kim Anthony said she saw a season like this coming, looking at all the talent returning as well as some of the newcomers to varsity softball around the 4A GSHL.
“I’m not surprised by it at all, to tell you the truth,” Anthony said. “In years past, it was a matter of getting up just for the Camas game. Now you can’t take anyone for granted.
“That’s the mentality coaches always bring, but it has never been more true than this year.”
In the long run, this should benefit the league, Camas coach Ken Nidick said.
“I really believe the three teams that are going to come out of here are going to be well prepared,” he said, referring to the three teams that will advance to bi-district and have a shot to go to the state tournament. “It’s pretty high-level softball.”
Camas finished second in state last year, and Skyview made it to the state tournament. Then earlier this season, it was Skyview handing Camas its first loss of the year.
On Tuesday, Camas returned the favor. Hubbard struck out Skyview’s final two batters with the tying run in scoring position.
“I told all the girls they needed to work their butts off over the weekend,” Hubbard said. “I did. I went to my pitching coach and I figured out what was wrong. I feel like I’m back. I’m so pumped up right now.”
It was one of the new talents in the league that got Camas on the board in the second inning. Allie Hancock, a freshman, was in the lineup for Katie Schroeder, who is out indefinitely with an illness. Hancock made the best of her opportunity with a single to drive in the game’s first run.
“I was excited. I was shaking, up to bat,” she said. “I was happy it ended up good.”
She would later have a double, getting two of Camas’ four hits against Skyview ace Michelle Brincefield.
Camas would get another run in the second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Tori O’Neil.
Skyview’s Emily Dobbin scored Skyview’s run. She walked, stole second, and scored on the same play after two Camas errors.
Hubbard, who allowed three hits, did not get rattled.
“One run lets you win the game, and two gives you a cushion,” she said. “We needed the cushion today.”
No cushion in the standings, though. The 4A GSHL is up for grabs.
CAMAS 2, SKYVIEW 1
Camas 020 000 0–2 4 3
Skyview 001 000 0–1 3 1
Pitching — Harli Hubbard 7 IP, win, 11 Ks, 0 ER. Highlights — Rio Smith 1-3; Allie Hancock 2-3, 2B, RBI; Lena Richards 1-2.
Pitching — Michelle Brincefield 7 IP, loss, 7 Ks. Highlights — Kayla Moore 2-3, 2B; Emily Dobbin 1-3.