Elise Dugwyler learned to become comfortable around the unfamiliar.
After attending three different high schools in three states over three years, she was used to bouncing around — from California to Oregon to Colorado. And she always had softball to help ease the transition from one place to another.
But Dugwyler never felt completely at home until she arrived at Silver Creek before her junior year and started playing for the Raptors.
“It was hard at times,” she said. “I never really had time to fit in and join a team that felt like a family. I was kind of hopping around and sort of playing for myself.
“That’s one of the things that I loved about coming here. I’ve said this like 8,000 times, but this team is my family.”
Dugwyler, a senior catcher for the Raptors, proved herself to be a leader behind the plate and a threat while at-bat. She exploded when the postseason arrived, becoming a near-impossible out, and set the tone for an powerful offense.
From the early part of the season, it was clear that she would become the Camera/Times-Call softball player of the year.
“I don’t know who else comes close to what she did,” Silver Creek coach Ryan Beavers said.
Dugwyler ended the year with a .592 batting average with 15 doubles, 27 RBIs and just four strikeouts. That includes a super-hot streak in the final five games of the season where she was 13-of-17 with three doubles, two triples, five home runs and 15 RBIs.
“I had the time of my life playing in those last few games,” she said. “I forgot about everything in my past and everything in my future and just focused on that one at-bat. It really allowed me to relax and have fun.”
Dugwyler, who recently signed to play at the Colorado School of Mines, grew up playing the game in Portland, Ore., and learned the finer skills from her mother.
But she said everything finally clicked once she found Silver Creek.
“I’ve come from teams where the coach is a jerk and yells and you never learn anything, or teams that could be decent but the girls aren’t close and there’s no real chemistry,” she said. “At Silver Creek, you have everything.”
Dugwyler’s inner drive did not go unnoticed by her teammates.
And just as hitting can be contagious in softball, so can a hard-working mentality.
“She never wanted to lose and she was just a very hard worker from the start,” Silver Creek infielder Rachel Olson said. “She always brought it and played great in every game.”
Since finding a place she that she likes to call home, Dugwyler is in no hurry to leave. That is part of the reason she opted to stay in-state for her college years, but she also is crafting some bigger plans for the years to come.
“I’d like to use an engineering degree to help people through humanitarian projects,” she said. “I’d love to be able to travel around the world and help others and all that good stuff.”