After years of growing up in a "baseball" family, Ferndale softball player Abigail Bauthues more than understands the intricacies of the sport.
She just never thought she would have this much fun playing it.
It's crazy for her to think about it, but Bauthues, at one point, didn't like to play softball.
"They (my family) have always been a baseball family," Bauthues said in a phone interview. "I never liked playing it, but I didn't want to upset my dad, So I kept doing it."
Fast forward to today and Bauthues is one of the most consistent players on a Golden Eagles team heading to IT'S first state tournament since 1992, when the team was still playing slowpitch. Ferndale begins its state title run against Bainbridge on Friday, May 30, at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
"Being the first fastpitch team to state in Ferndale history is already a big achievement. It just feels great to be a part of something that other teams can look back at," Bauthues said.
Bauthues stars in center field and bats cleanup for Ferndale (21-2, 12-0 NWC). At both the plate and in the field, Bauthues has exceled. She is hitting .426 on the year and hasn't committed an error.
"She's reliable," Ferndale coach Holly Hilton said in a phone interview. "She knows the game and has a sense of where balls are going to be before they're hit. She has a strong arm and makes plays. She's been consistent all year long at bringing runners in."
But Bauthues will admit, she went into the year the wrong way.
After losing some key players from last year, Bauthues didn't think the team would be as good as it is and that took some getting used to.
"I went into it with the mentality that it was going to be difficult," Bauthues said. "The most difficult part was adjusting how I thought things through."
After winning the first three games, Bauthues felt more confident in her team, but it wasn't until the Golden Eagles beat Sedro-Woolley 10-5 on April 14 that she knew Ferndale was going to have a special season.
For Bauthues, it showed the Golden Eagles' improvement in just a short period of time. Three weeks earlier, Ferndale had lost 4-2 to the Cubs.
Upon moving up to varsity her sophomore season, Bauthues felt a new encouragement to continue playing softball. By the winter of her junior year, Bauthues really started to commit.
"I wanted to work hard and get scholarships to give myself the opportunity to go to college to do something I love," Bauthues said.
So Bauthues hit the batting cages and worked on her swing, oftentimes with her brother, Brady. They would each point out things one another could work on as well as throw in some competition.
Despite duking it out to see who hit the most home runs or got the highest batting average, the relationship remains supportive. And the support has pushed Bauthues to a new level.
"I was just going in there (the batter's box) thinking I was going to get a hit and not getting too down on myself if I didn't," Bauthues said.
That mindset led to two doubles in the district title game and a strong confidence heading to state.
With the success of this season and only one senior, Collette Brown, graduating, Bauthues knows the Golden Eagles have a good chance at a similar run next season.
Hilton, though, has tempered expectations of next season, and is instead focusing on this year.
"We believe we can win," Hilton said. "You never know what will happen next season."
But for Bauthues, the "sky is the limit," Hilton said, and Bauthues would like to stretch that into college.
It took her awhile, but, now she can't get enough softball. A state title run will likely just add fuel to the fire that is Bauthues' excitement for her future in the sport.
Reach Joshua Hart by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 360-715-2851.