Eugene, Ore. -- Sheldon High School softball is ranked second in the OSAA 6A rankings with only a couple games left before the state playoffs begin. One of their best pitcher-catcher tandems is leading the charge, with a bond so strong it allows them to do something, unique to high school softball, out on the field.
There's 43 feet of space between pitchers rubber and home plate. But Sheldon senior catcher Emma Neuman and junior pitcher Camille Leach might as well be standing right in front of each other.
"We just have such a good relationship that she knows what days which pitches are working, which aren't, whether I'm really anxious or how I'm feeling and so she tends to know that," says Leach. "She calls time and she knows how to handle me very well and that's very important."
And it goes deeper than just a teammates bond, Neuman as a catcher has a very unique skill that isn't often seen in high school softball: calling pitches from the plate instead of the coaches calling them from the dugout.
"Emma's a very smart, smart, smart kid," Sheldon coach Mike Faulconer explains. "I knew that right away so I knew that philosphically what I want to do and what she's capable of doing were gonna merge quite well there."
But it wasn't always smooth sailing as one of the top teams in 6A, it's the culmination of four years of building trust and wins.
"It was a rough first year, it was a little shaky getting to know her she was a little close year," Neuman recalls. "But it really started to blossom last year, my junior year, we started to click a little more and we started to read each others minds."
Camille's pitching coach, Connie Gilbuher has been working with the junior since she was about 11 years old and knows what it takes for a catcher and pitcher to have that trust...fter all...Connie herself is an Oregon softball alum.
"I think Emma does a great job of making sure that Camille is relaxed, she's not too stressed and just that she's feeling comfortable and confident and ready to play," says Gilbuher. "Emma's kind of a caretaker to Camille and I think that's pretty cool to see."
With it being Emma's last year, Camille wants to make a deep run in the state tournament to send her catcher and the rest of the seniors off right.
"She puts everything into softball, into school and all of that, it'd be very good for her and for me to do that with her, and go that far," Leach concludes.