Capital High senior Nicole Ames was the ace of the pitching staff this year, setting a school season record with 20 starts in the circle while posting an 11-9 overall mark with a 2.78 ERA.
At the State AA Tournament in Great Falls, Ames helped lead the Bruins to a fourth-place finish with two pitching wins.
She garnered her second all-state selection, and now, Nicole Ames is the Independent Record’s 2019 Softball Player of the Year.
“Nicole was our MVP, without her pitching we would’ve been a much different team,” said coach Mike Miller, whose Capital team wound up with a 14-10 overall record. “Her biggest strength is probably her athletic experience. She participated in three sports a year throughout her high school career and that allowed her to be in many competitive situations.”
Miller said that Ames throws hard, but also has a good understanding of the game and could play any position.
“Wow, that's such an honor,” Ames said, when informed of earning the paper's player of the year. “I never would’ve expected recognition like this. It’s honestly so humbling.”
At State, in the tournament opener versus Billings Skyview, Ames scattered eight hits in the 10-inning complete game 5-3 victory. She struck out 12 batter, while giving up just three walks.
After a defeat to Billings Senior, Ames narrowly missed a no-hitter, firing a 1-hitter in an 11-0 win over Helena in an elimination game. She whiffed six and walked one, with the only hit by Kali Anderson, the second batter of the game.
Then came a close 5-3 loss to Billings West in the third-place contest with Ames twirling a five-hitter and giving up just one earned run.
She finished the season with 123 strikeouts in 118 innings pitched, permitting 123 hits. Ames leaves the program ranked No. 4 all-time with 211 strikeouts and fifth with 24 career wins.
“I want to thank Shane and Vanessa Shaw who sent me in the right direction and taught me so much about the game, (plus) each of my high school coaches for their unending belief in me and teaching me confidence I lacked as younger player,” Ames said. “I also want to thank my family for coming to every single game and being there for me no matter the outcome.
“My last thank you goes to my dad (Greg) for the hours and hours he spent with me because he saw something in me I couldn't. He taught me the value of hard work and where it will take me.”
Miller said he would always remember Nicole the person more than the athlete.
“She has tremendous family values, is committed to her faith and helping others. Nicole Ames is a great example for young female athletes,” the Miller said.