RICHLAND -- There can be plenty of challenges to staying error-free on a softball field -- sun, wind, wet grass, maybe an injury or simply a mental lapse.
So keeping one's record blemish-free, as Richland High School senior shortstop Maddie Chambers has done this season, is no easy feat.
"She averages five to six plays a game, and they're difficult plays," Richland coach Casey Emery said.
Chambers, a longtime club player, was an all-conference third baseman as a freshman. But with his shortstop graduating after the season and no new prospects at that position, Emery decided to move Chambers to short for her sophomore campaign.
Knowing incoming freshman Bailey Walthers could play third, Chambers agreed to the shift, but it wasn't a natural fit.
"Short is longer (to the plate) than third base, and you have to have quicker hands and turn and be more vocal," Chambers said. "It was hard, but I knew going in, I would probably have to move over to shortstop because nobody else would be able to move up."
Now, even for those who know of her past life as a third baseman, it's hard to remember a time when Chambers wasn't comfortable at short.
"She'll be back in the outfield grass throwing people out at first base," Emery said. "She has great range, great quickness."
Though Chambers' efforts at short have not garnered her an all-conference selection, her coach says she has the talent to be on the list.
"She has turned at least a half-dozen plays that with any other shortstop would have been a base hit, but she turned them into outs," Emery said.
Offensively, Chambers does her part for the Bombers as well. Last week, she drove in seven runs against Chiawana and six against Eisenhower. She's second on the team this season with 27 RBIs.
"I've always been a power hitter," Chambers said. "I'm usually in the four or five spot, so I usually get a lot of chances to get those RBIs."
But where her speed often helps her on defense, it can hinder her at the plate.
"Her hands are sometimes so quick, it's her worst enemy," Emery said. "Slower pitching gives her trouble. So we've been telling her to get her hands back and trust her swing."
Chambers will get perhaps her biggest test of the season today, when longtime rival Walla Walla visits Richland. Senior left-hander Hope Klicker and junior right-hander Alyson Ambler regularly record double-digit strikeouts for the undefeated Blue Devils.
"I've seen them, so I just stay patient and confident," Chambers said. "You have to stay confident, or else they'll set you down mentally."
Rain, rain, go away: Rain forced the postponement of a CBBN 3A doubleheader between Kamiakin and West Valley until May 3. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at West Valley. Kamiakin is 6-0 in league, while West Valley is 5-1 after splitting a doubleheader Tuesday with Hanford.
Kamiakin coach Tammy Hutchison says the weight of the Braves' games against West Valley will depend on how the Rams do today at Southridge (4-2).
* Katie Dorsey: 509-582-1526; firstname.lastname@example.org