The best in Oregon

Nightmare rules in Oregon 10-U fastpitch

SPRINGFIELD - A determined group of young ladies from Oregon City was everyone's nightmare at the Amateur Softball Association 10-and-under A/B State Championship Fastpitch Tournament, held here July 2-4.

They call themselves the Oregon City Nightmare, and they were one of the worst nightmares for their opponents, as they breezed to the state title, outscoring their opponents 35-3 in their five state tournament games.

Their only close game of the tournament was a 2-0 win over the Tigard Blast, a team they had lost to twice during the regular season.

They also took care of business with a team they had lost to three straight times early in the season, the Tualatin Terror, terrorizing the Terror 13-1 in the state tournament winner's bracket final, and 6-1 in the championship final.

'I was kind of shocked when we beat Tualatin Terror twice [after losing to them three straight times],' said Nightmare centerfielder Amber Jewell. 'When we met them [in the championship final], I knew we could do it again.'

The Nightmare and Terror split in games played during the 2011 season, each team winning three games.

The Nightmare also posted state tournament wins over the Forest Grove-based Oregon Rampage (9-0) and the Medford Junior Eagles (5-1).

'The girls played their best ball of the season - by far [at the state tournament],' said Nightmare head coach Ron Williams. 'Our pitching and defense were great, just like they have been all season. And our bats came alive.'

'The girls had a goal at the beginning of the season to win state,' Williams said. 'They worked hard, beginning with practices in January, got better with each game and practice, and they accomplished their goal.

'Every girl on the team contributed. They had great attitudes. They wanted to learn, and they practiced hard. I couldn't be prouder.'

'It feels so great!' said Nightmare outfielder Riley Schedler. 'I'm so excited! Last year we got consolation and our coach said, 'Next year we're going to come out and win state,' and we did it. It feels so special to win state. We're the best in the state now.'

Schedler continued, 'We were second in a lot of tournaments and after the tournaments, at our team meeting, coach would say, 'Is this our goal?' And we'd say, 'No.' And we all, in our heads, said we'd have to work harder….

'We have a team of good working girls, and it feels awesome [to be state champions]!'

Williams said that pitchers Liberty Robinson and Morgan Hornback combined for no fewer than 56 strikeouts in the Nightmare's five state tournament games.

'They threw a lot of strikes and our team made hardly any errors,' Williams said.

'It was a lot of teamwork,' said Hornback, who has practiced pitching for the past three years. 'We talked to each other a lot and just worked together.'

Williams said his girls hit the ball throughout the lineup and they earned a .424 team on-base average for the tournament, led by Camryn Williams (.642), Hornback (.588) and Amber Jewell (.533).

Jewell explained the reason for her high on-base percentage, 'When I hit the ball, I look straight at the base and run straight to it. I don't watch the ball. And when I get on base I look at the base coach and, if he says to steal, you just have to go for it and steal, even though you might get out.'

Jewell said that she is safe 'most of the time' when she attempts to steal a base.

Kylee Vanderbout had the Nightmare's only home run of the state tournament, a timely round-tripper that gained the Nightmare some breathing room in the win over Medford.

The first place finish at the state tournament was only the Nightmare's second championships out of nine tournaments they had played in this year.

This was the first year together for most of the girls on the team, although all but one of them played softball a year ago.

Williams coached his daughter Camryn, Hornback, Schedler and Jewell on an Oregon City Fireballs team that finished as consolation champions at last year's state 10-U tournament.

'We were playing our consolation championship game at the same time the championship game was being played,' coach Williams said. 'The girls went over after our game and watched them give out the trophies to the championship team. I think that made them want to win it even more this year.'

'I watched that team, and I wanted to be that team this year,' said Hornback.

'This means a lot,' said Camryn Williams. 'When we walk around, we can say that we're the best in state.'

The Nightmare roster included eight players from Oregon City, along with View Acres fifth grader Liberty Robinson (pitcher/third base/first base), Happy Valley fifth grader Kylee Vanderbout (catcher) and Willamette Elementary third grader Callie Blanchard (outfield).

Oregon City girls on the team included: fifth graders Riley Schedler (catcher/outfield), Lynzie Phelps (outfield), Morgan Hornback (pitcher/first base), Allie Edwards (shortstop/pitcher), Amber Jewell (outfield), Olivia McClintock (first base) and Camryn Williams (second base/pitcher); and fourth grader Emily Dugan (third base/outfield).

Schedler attends Springwater Elementary; Phelps and McClintock attend Beavercreek Elementary; Hornback, Dugan, Jewell and Williams attend John McLoughlin; and Edwards attends St. Johns.

The team was in Beaverton last weekend, competing in an ASA regional championship. After dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to Washington Speed in their opener, the Nightmare defeated Team Faith 17-2 and the Tualatin Terror 13-4, before bowing out with a second loss to Washington Speed, 9-4.

'We've qualified for nationals,' coach Williams. 'But that would mean six days and six nights in Fresno, and we decided that's a little too much to pay.'

Coaching the 10-U state championship Nightmare team with Williams were Nathan Hornback, Scott Vanderbout and Mary Edwards.

The last time an Oregon City 10-and-under team won state at the highest level was in 2002, when a team called the Oregon City Pride finished on top. Standout athlete Taylor Belmont, a 2010 graduate of Oregon City High School, was among the girls on that team.

'She was my coach at basketball camp,' said Schedler. 'I look up to Taylor Belmont. She's what I aim to be.'

Besides softball, Schedler also plays basketball and volleyball.

Asked what her favorite sport is, Schedler said, 'That's a question I have yet to face….

'Right now my favorite sport is whatever season we're in.'