Papermakers with ties to Southern California got to play in front of family and friends
A week ago, it was a 100-degree day where the Camas baseball team played a game during its Spring Break trip to Southern California.
By Monday, back home, Spring Break was extended after a snowstorm in Clark County.
It capped a wild, crazy trip for the Papermakers, who endured several travel changes, going from the original plan of flying to California to opting to drive instead.
For four Papermakers, though, the journey was truly special. They got to go on the road to play some quasi-home games.
Cannon Bauman pitched a couple of innings, struck out four, and had more than a dozen family members there to cheer him on, from grandparents to aunts and uncles and cousins from nearby Long Beach.
Jon Dabasinskas had family members at games, as well. He was born in Mission Viejo.
So, too, did Matthew Manjooran, who had lived in Venice, Calif.
Then there was Max Fraser, who lived in San Diego for nine years before his family moved to Camas. After the baseball tournament ended, he stayed behind with some friends for a few more days.
In college athletics, it is normal for a program to schedule a trip to an athlete’s home region. Camas coach Stephen Short said he cannot take credit for that. This trip to California was years in the making. Still, it was an added bonus for four of his players, to travel some 1,000 miles from home to get a home feel.
Bauman said he was brought back to his Little League days.
“I’m back in my hometown, playing in front of family again,” said Bauman, who lived in Long Beach, about 30 miles away from El Dorado High School, where the Papermakers played in the National High School Classic.
He recorded four strikeouts in his two innings of work, but he noted that when he is on the mound, he tunes out the crowd. So he did not hear all the cheers.
Still, he knew it was a memorable outing for him and his family.
“It was just the sense of, ‘I’m having fun playing baseball again,’” said Bauman, who moved with his immediate family to Clark County prior to this sixth-grade year.
“I had no idea he had that much family down there,” Short said. “It was cool to see him go out and compete the way that he did. His (extended) family that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been able to see him play, got to see him. That was a pretty special deal for him.”
Manjooran, a freshman at Camas, moved to Clark County a couple of years ago. He was thrilled to make the team this year, knowing what was on the schedule.
“I was super excited. First thing we did was call everybody in California,” Manjooran said. “Basically, all of our family is still there. … A bunch of people got to see me play. That was really fun.”
This was the second trip to California for a Camas sports trip for Jon Dabasinskas. He was in SoCal in December to watch his brother, Josh, play at a basketball tournament for the Papermakers.
The Camas Dabasinskas family saw extended family for the first time in a couple of years during that trip. This time, those family members came to watch Jon play baseball.
“Coming down there four months later was pretty cool,” said Dabasinskas, who moved to Camas when he was an eighth-grader.
Fraser’s old friends from his nine years living in San Diego did not attend any of the baseball games. Instead, Fraser stayed behind after the baseball tournament to hang out with them all weekend.
“I got to see a bunch of people who I still stay in touch with,” Fraser said.
These are the moments that the players will remember, more than the results. The Papermakers went 1-3 against quality competition in California. The goal for the team, for this year’s team, Short said, was to play great teams in order to prepare for competition in the 4A Greater St. Helens League back home.
“We felt like we accomplished that,” Short said.
Years from now, though, the journey will matter more than the tournament.
“If you play sports of any kind, mostly what you remember is the time spent with your teammates,” Short said. “The long drives, road trips, in hotel rooms, out having team dinners. I think the players really had a good time.”
It turned out, the Papermakers had a lot more time together while traveling than anticipated.
Camas baseball had been trying to get back to California for years. The 2020 trip was called off at the beginning of the pandemic. There was no travel allowed during the 2021 abbreviated season. This year, though, Camas had a green light.
The Papermakers booked their flight, ready to go on Sunday, the day before their first game in the tournament.
Then the airline changed the airport. Then changed the departure date. At one point, the Papermakers were moved to a Monday night flight. That wouldn’t work. They were supposed to play Monday morning. The team was booked again on a Sunday flight but would have to have a layover in Seattle.
As the week progressed, Short noticed that a lot of flights were being canceled. He prepared for the worst.
Sure enough, on Friday night, the Papermakers knew they could not rely on the airline industry. They made the call to drive.
Parents helped out with getting rental vehicles. Tumwater baseball coach Lyle Overbay had a 12-person van, as well, that he allowed Camas to use. And on Saturday morning, 22 players, along with coaches and some parents, headed down I-5 for the 1,016-mile trek to El Dorado High School.
“I had a lot of fun getting to know a lot of our teammates,” Dabasinskas said. “Our chemistry got a lot better.”
“The van ride was fun,” Bauman said. “Just being with friends, going somewhere, is awesome.”
“No one likes the 16-hour drive, but going with friends makes it a lot better,” Fraser said.
Besides the four games in the tournament, the team also visited Dodger Stadium.
Plus there was an extra night’s hotel stay both ways, extending the time together.
Four Camas Papermakers went the extra mile for some home cooking, if you will, and all the Papermakers will remember Spring Break 2022 for more than just the baseball games.