The senior shortstop was recognized as the West Valley League's top softball player after guiding the Vikings into the Class 3A state playoffs for the third consecutive season
As the fly ball settled into the right fielders glove for the second out of the inning, Coltons Mikaela Shelton crossed first base and growled loudly.
The senior shortstop turned and trotted into the Vikings dugout. There, she growled again and mumbled under her breath how she would do better next time.
But there was no next time.
Colton ended up scoring two runs that inning, but the Corbett Cardinals countered with seven to open a 13-3 lead, bringing an end to the OSAA Class 3A playoff game and the end to Sheltons decorated high school career with the Vikings.
I know that I could have played better, Shelton said. I was frustrated that I wasnt able to, so thats hard.
Shelton was a big reason Colton made the playoffs this season. One of only two seniors on the roster, she batted .528 in the leadoff spot with a .575 on-base percentage and was named the West Valley Leagues Player of the Year after pacing the Vikings (13-11, 7-3 WVL) to a second-place finish behind Dayton.
She earned a scholarship to play next season at Centralia College, the two-year school in Centralia, Wash., that competes in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, and is joining a Trailblazers team that went 27-15 and won the NWAACC Western Region championship.
Vikings coach Jim Brochis wasnt trying to be funny when he said Shelton throws like a boy.
Mikaela was a very good player as a junior, and she was even better as a senior, Brochis said. Shes a tremendous shortstop, more advanced than any infielder on any of the other teams in the West Valley League, the way she covers the ground, handles the ball, and throws.
Shes just the total package in that she hits well, fields well, and is an outstanding team leader.
Shelton served as a co-captain with senior outfielder Joslyn Stansfield and junior pitcher Becky Patterson.
Many times, your seniors get a little lackadaisical, because they have so many things going on so close to graduation, Brochis said. In this particular year, the two seniors -- Mikaela and Joslyn -- were probably as focused, if not more so, than anybody on the team.
They worked harder than anybody during practice there hasnt been any letdown from our seniors, which has been a good thing to see, because Ive seen it happen more often than not. Its been a great year.
That also helps explain why the West Valley coaches voted Shelton as the Player of the Year over Daytons Michaela Sholdis and Stephanie Jacks, who helped guide the No. 2-ranked Pirates (21-5, 10-0 WVL) to an appearance in the state semifinals.
When my coach called me and told me I was the Player of the Year, I was pretty excited, said Shelton, the first Colton softball player to earn Player of the Year honors since Brandi Brown in 1996 and 1997. I was surprised, because I knew there were a couple other girls in the running. I was just happy that the other coaches saw that I was a better all-around player.
Patterson, named to the all-WVL first team for the second year in a row, said the leagues coach got the Player of the Year right.
I definitely thought it was something Mikaela deserved, Patterson said. In my eyes, shes the best player in the league, because she always has a great attitude, shes a great hitter, she makes great plays in the field to get us out of tough situations and shes just an all-round, great player.
Shelton said she gets her competitive spirit from her parents – Mindi and Mark.
Both were multi-sport athletes in college -- Mindi competed in volleyball, basketball and track at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton; Mark competed in cross country, basketball, track and baseball at Blue Mountain and Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham -- and they have tried to pass some of the passion they have for competing in team sports on to their two children, Austin and Mikaela.
They started me really young, said Mikaela, who also excelled in volleyball and basketball at Colton. They pushed me in every way possible, to the point of me crying sometimes.
But theyve always wanted whats best for me, and I know that. Ive tried to push myself as hard as they wanted me to be pushed, and it ended up working out. Obviously, Im going to college on some sports scholarships.
Marks hopes some of the lessons Mikaela has learned on the court will help her to deal with some of the situations she is likely to face off the court, dealing with everyday life. And if she sometimes wears her emotions on her sleeve in the heat of competition, thats not always a bad thing.
She knows what shes capable of doing, and when she doesnt live up to that, it frustrates her a little bit and she wants to do better the next time, Mark said. Thats the competitive nature with her that she will never give up.
In basketball, she can play some tenacious defense. I can hardly even explain how proud I was to watch her. I liked to see her score, but to watch her shut down the other teams top player and just frustrate the heck out of them those were some of my proudest moments watching her play in any sport she has ever played.
Mikaela also plans to play volleyball at Centralia, but softball is where she expects to make a mark and perhaps earn an opportunity to continue playing at a four-year school.
She has a good feeling about the Colton team she is leaving behind.
Hopefully, they can see what theyre capable of doing and go as far or farther than this team went, she said. It wont be the same group of girls, which is going to make it hard, but whatever they do is up to them.