Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — When Cami Coil received the news that she’d be making her first varsity softball start, there were a million thoughts that instantly ran through her mind.
She was a freshman who had been placed on Huntington’s varsity team for, what she thought to be, a learning stint. But instead of fanning the flames, she was thrown straight into the fire.
She still remembers her reaction when Huntington coach Spenser Smith made the decision.
“I was just going crazy. I didn’t know what to think. Spenser pulled me aside and said, ‘I’m going to need you to start today.’ It was crazy,” Coil said. “When it was happening, I was mind blown. It’s like, ‘I’m actually playing.’ I really didn’t plan on starting that [freshman] year. I thought it was just a learning year where I’d just be on the team and not have a role.”
Instead, she played a significant role on a team that won 10 games and was two runs away from reaching a Division III district championship — the group suffered a 12-11 loss to Wellston in a district semi.
It was certainly still a learning experience. The only difference was the way in which she learned. Instead of watching, she had to pick things up on the fly.
“I had a couple of bad games and that made me really nervous. But overall, it was a learning experience,” Coil said. “I think the hardest transition for me was learning how to play with older girls. They were hard on us younger ones. But learning to play at their speed and their level made me better. It helped me become the player I am today.”
Since that freshman year and since that start she’ll never forget, Coil has progressed as both a player and a leader.
And, like anything else in life, she’s had to overcome obstacles along the way.
Early last spring, she suffered an injury that kept her sidelined for the majority of her sophomore year.
“We were at Paint Valley and I dove back into first base. The first baseman’s cleat was blocking the bag and I dove right back into her foot,” Coil said. “It was tough. I finished the game with a broken hand. I had a cast and a brace on after that. I got to pinch run after that but I didn’t get to play with my team. Thankfully, I healed pretty quick and was here throughout this past summer.”
Instead of hanging her head and dwelling on what was basically a season-ending injury, Coil decided that she’d work harder than ever to get back to health.
That plan worked as she’s reclaimed her spot in Huntington’s lineup and her spot in right field.
“I’ve improved most on my hitting,” Coil said. “My freshman year, I wasn’t hitting very well at all. It was difficult. Last season, I hit really well before it got cut short. I’ve started off this year a little rough but I was rusty. It’s still nice to see.”
Her role as a leader, however, has never changed.
“It’s very important to me to be a leader,” Coil said. “Whenever I leave, I want the girls that I’ve been a leader for step up and do the same thing. I just want to help my team. I know what a good leader can mean. I had that when I was younger and I want to give our younger girls the same example.”
Currently, Huntington sits at 7-5 overall with a 3-3 mark in the Scioto Valley Conference. Coil says this year’s team has the potential to do something special. But for now, the Huntsmen are taking things on a night-by-night basis.
And, with Coil leading the way by example, they seem to be in good hands.
“We’re a very close team. We do everything together, we all get along and I think we play well as a team,” Coil said. “Our expectations are to compete with the teams at the top of the league. We just want to play our game and do what we have to do to win. That’s the goal each night.”