Camdenton's Jillian Selander and Lyndsay Boots walk off as winners in final home finale
Any season can quickly fly by and in the blink of an eye, an athlete's own high school career can swiftly conclude as well.
Camdenton hosted Bolivar for Senior Night on Thursday and for seniors Jillian Selander and Lyndsay Boots, it may have been the final time they took the field on their home diamond.
"We've always joked about it being our last game, but it is really hard to believe that it is actually here," said Boots who was the starting pitcher for the Lakers.
Thankfully, the team sent off their two seniors with some good memories as they topped the Liberators by a final score of 3-1. Camdenton trailed 1-0 early in the third inning, but a run in the third and two more runs in the fourth was more than enough to get the job done.
"It was really important because we knew coming in that Bolivar was pretty good," Camdenton junior Shelby Webster said of delivering the home finale win. "We had to win this for Jill and Lyndsay so we did our best and came out on top."
Trailing 1-0, Camdenton junior Haile Farris put up an RBI single to tie it back up in the third and sophomore Raegan Waters and Selander came through in the fourth. Waters posted a sacrifice fly RBI to regain the lead and Selander connected on an infield RBI single to create the final margin. Overall, the Lakers posted eight total hits as a team.
Meanwhile on the mound, Boots limited the damage allowing just a single run on five hits while walking a batter and striking out two in three innings of work. Farris worked the final final four innings and the junior was lights out as she silenced the Bolivar bats allowing no hits and a single walk while striking out nine.
Thursday was also a milestone day for another pair of Lakers. Farris secured the single season strikeout record with 158 on the year (about six strikeouts per game) and Webster came into the contest with the single season home run record with seven homers to her name so far. The deadly combo will be back in 2018.
"I’d like to take credit for some of those home runs, but Coach (Tyler) Dinsdale usually works with the hitters and I’d like to take credit for the strikeouts, but that is Coach (Elizabeth) Grover working with the pitchers so I just kind of sit back and complain," joked Camdenton head coach Rick Calbert. "Those are two of the better players around. You are going to be hard-pressed to find a much better pitcher than Hailey Farris who throws hard and has good movement and location. Shelby also does a heck of a job for us and she can crush a softball.”
Farris, who recorded seven straight strikeouts in Thursday night's game, said she just works with what she has.
"It has been a blast. I keep working on my spin and movement wth my pitches," the junior said. "Based on the game, I work with whatever is working and just go with it."
Farris has an arm and she has also proven to have a big bat as she is currently tied with Webster for two grand slams each so far in 2017.
"It is funny because everyone keeps asking if we are in competition with each other and trying to beat each other," Webster recalled. "I am just trying to hit the ball and that is all I ever try to do... Hitting grand slams with Hailey has been really cool, especially in high school."
Selander hopes the duo and the rest of her younger teammates will have just as much fun when they take the field next year and beyond. As the senior rounded the bases one final time in the Senior Night ceremony with Boots, the realization that her own chapter of Laker softball was coming to an end crossed her mind.
"My high school season is practically almost over besides districts and the next chapter of my life is going to begin soon," Selander said. "It is kind of scary, but exciting at the same time and I hope all these girls just remember to work hard and love the game."
Calbert, for one, knows that is exactly what his two seniors have done all four years of their Camdenton softball careers.
"They have contributed in different ways, but contributed all four years to the success we've had," he said. "If we can get one more win, it will be four straight years of 20 wins or more so they've had good careers. When you could say you've contributed to a team that has won more than 100 games in four years, that is pretty good contribution.
Jillian has just run center field since her freshman year, never misses a game, played shortstop when we needed it, caught for us when we needed it and she is a heck of a player. Lyndsay has come off the bench when we needed her, pitched quite a few games when we had injuries and she is one of our biggest cheerleaders. She is just an all-around great kid and the kind of kid every team needs to help you be successful," he added.
Camdenton (19-9) fell to Dixon 9-5 on Friday to wrap up the regular season. The Lakers will be the top seed in district play at Willard next week and will await the winner of Willard and Springfield Central on Thursday in the district semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Should Camdenton win, they will take on the winner of Waynesville and Lebanon for the district championship on Friday at the same time.
Until that time, Calbert said one of the key areas of focus will be improving the quality at-bats.
"We try to take pitches until we get one that we can hit with some authority and it is always a challenge with the changing speeds of pitchers," the coach pointed out. "Going from a fast pitcher to a slower one is the challenge and we've done a lot better job with that lately. I'm just hoping it continues."
Time will soon tell if the Lakers can repeat as district champions and take another shot at sectionals.