Beaverton softball ends season on a high note
From the time they were 6 years old through the curtain call contest of their high school careers, Cierra Speck, Noe Lambert and Kimaia Gassner experienced both the spoils and the sorrow of softball.
It's a game that's shown favor to all three. When the trio was 12 years old, they reached the Little League Softball World Series suiting up for Raleigh Hills at Alpenrose Stadium. As Beaverton High juniors they jumped Gresham in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs and almost wrested away a semifinal bid from Westview in the next round.
They were varsity players the minute they slipped on the orange, white and black, starters as sophomores, all-league players as juniors. In three years, first under the guidance of legendary Roni Illias and then James Lambert, Speck, Gassner and Noe Lambert won 60 combined games.
This season was an anomaly more than anything. The vicious cycle of new schools cropping up, players becoming more and more disenchanted with the game and quitting prematurely left Beaverton with a 5-21 record and a No. 41 seed in the 6A power rankings. There won't be a playoff appearance this season, not even a play-in game to reach the postseason.
But, what these three accomplished during the careers can't be overlooked. And in an apt finale, Beaverton went out on a winning note, thumping Southridge 17-1 in five innings on May 9 at Southridge High School.
"We've made some of the best friends that we'll have the rest of our lives, so that's pretty great," Lambert said. "We're not going anywhere when it comes to careers for softball, so this was definitely a good life-long learning experience. We've grown up as people together, as best friends."
Lambert and Gassner will play at the collegiate level and, although Speck is playing college basketball for Eastern Arizona College, she played ASA during the summer and didn't rule out pitching collegiately. The three played ASA softball during the summer and know how to compete at a high level against great competition. Playing on a Beaver team chalk full of freshmen and true rookies who never played softball before this season tested them and stretched them as individuals, but in the end, the challenge made them stronger.
"You learn how to be a better person, a better teammate, a better athlete," Speck said.
"It was definitely a learning experience," Lambert said. "I got to be a leader and improve my leadership ability. The three of us were captains. We've always had the older girls led the team, but we had to step up."
The last hurrah was just like old times. Lambert gloved a hard-hit ball off the infield dirt and drove in three runs at the dish. Speck starred in the circle in what might be her last start ever. Gassner gunned down an attempting base stealer at second with Lambert putting down the tag and added a patented rocket shot RBI single. The younger players got in on the action as well. Freshman Kanani Lambert laced three RBIs in the first two innings including a two-run double in the second. Hailey Singleton and Marrisa Arneson also tacked on RBI singles as did Tianna Blacketear.
"We've seen a lot of improvement over the year and I'm proud of all of my teammates for stepping up their game," Lambert said. "A couple of girls like (Blacketear) who are playing in their first year did a great job considering they were playing at the varsity level. That's pretty impressive."