Competitive drive fuels Kennedy Ferguson. More often than not, she can’t hold back.
So, naturally, when given the option to rest her arm after pitching Camas to a state-clinching victory over league-rival Union at the 4A softball bi-district tournament last month, the decision whether to continue pitching later that day in a state seeding game was elementary.
“I like having the ball in my hand,” Ferguson said, “… it’s the feeling of having that power of controlling the game.”
That was that. New game, and back to the circle she went.
That’s Ferguson, The Columbian’s All-Region softball player of the year, a player who in the rare times she wasn’t pitching, leading Camas to the 4A Greater St. Helens League title as the league’s pitching MVP, was in her secondary position at shortstop.
She eventually led the Papermakers to a fourth-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament, the program’s second time placing fourth in three seasons.
Leading up to state, Ferguson was nearly unhittable in the circle. The junior allowed just 22 hits in 23 games heading to Spokane, the site of the 4A state tournament, and finished the season with 198 strikeouts over 110 innings pitched.
At 5 feet 6, Ferguson isn’t the tallest of pitchers or the hardest of throwers, so she relies on her movement and craftiness in her six-pitch arsenal. That, and always thinking one step ahead of the batter.
“You have to keep them guessing; not be too predictable,” she said.
Camas coach Dale Lunde said Ferguson possesses a lethal combination of natural talent and an above and beyond work ethic. But what separates her from others, he said, is her strength, which Lunde credits to her weight room regimen.
“You see pitchers who seem to be smooth, and just smooth and fluid,” he said. “She seems to be strong. A pitcher that throws a strong, hard pitch — that’s her work ethic.
“Some people rest on their talent, but she’s taken it to the next level.”
That next level eventually will be NCAA Div. II Adams State, where Ferguson recently gave her verbal commitment. As a year-round softball player between high school and travel ball, she estimated she takes one week off from softball annually; that week came after the state tournament.
Even after 381 pitches over five games of Camas’ six games at state in Spokane, the ice and ibuprofen to soothe her throwing shoulder was just fine with Ferguson after a 2016 season that fell short of expectations in the district tournament.
“I like winning,” Ferguson said, “so it’s definitely worth it.”
All-Region softball team
Abby England, La Center
Trico MVP pitched Wildcats to another league title and back to 1A state title game. Finished with 178 strikeouts, and also had a team-best nine home runs, including a three-home run game.
Anna Aguon, Union
4A GSHL’s player of the year was a tough out when she wasn’t intentionally walked. Hit .542 with eight home runs to lead the Titans to the bi-district tournament.
Mikelle Anthony, Skyview
Of the Storm’s 17 games, the freshman had multi-hit games in 10 of them. Also scored 26 runs and drove in 18 RBI.
Abby Fischer, Skyview
Storm’s junior catcher was clutch at the plate: Had 26 hits, scored 26 runs and 27 RBI.
Katie Hancock, Camas
All-4A GSHL infielder provided big the hits — 29 — no matter where she hit in Papermakers’ lineup. Ended season with .402 average.
Megan Muffett, La Center
Trico offensive MVP did it all behind the dish and with her bat. Batted .487 with five home runs.
Isabelle Parkin, Columbia River
All-2A GSHL player had a 15-game hitting streak that included eight multi-hit games. Finished season batting .464 with 22 RBI leading Chieftains to the postseason.
Kaia Oliver, Ridgefield
Spudders rode the arm of their sophomore in the circle. Posted a 1.73 ERA with 189 strikeouts leading Ridgefield to share of league title and state appearance.
Abby Runyon, Hockinson
The Hawks rode the arm of Runyon to a 2A district berth. Struck out 191 batters in 23 games, and threw two no-hitters.
Alyssa Tomasini, Camas
Speed kills, and Papermakers’ leadoff hitter was lethal. Had a team-best 41 hits and used her speed to score 29 runs.
Alexis Morrison, Battle Ground
The all-league junior helped the Tigers reach the 4A state tournament since going back-to-back in 2014 and ’15.