PHOTOS BY ISABEL: Highline Bears go to B.C. for tournament + female Ump

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Now in her third year(!) with more great work is our youngest-ever Contributor – 13-year old Isabel Herbruger – Local Girl Scout, 4-H member, and aspiring photojournalist. We encourage residents of all ages to submit stories and photos for posting – for consideration, please email yours to [email protected]!]

Photos and Story by Isabel Herbruger, age 13

Last week, the Highline Bears were in Grand Forks, B.C. for a tournament.

The first game was Tuesday night (June 27) against the Alaska Goldpanners from Fairbanks (red shirts). They lost 0-11 in seven innings. The rules at this tournament were if a team was ahead by eight runs after the seventh inning, the game would be called.

Click images to see larger versions/slideshow:

The Bears managed to get a few hits, but could not score against Alaska.

Chase attempts to make it to second.

Alaska got many hits off the Bear pitchers.

Another Goldpanner slides into home.

The second game was Wednesday night against the Everett Merchants. The Bears had two home runs and were ahead for the first half of the game, but they lost in nine innings 6-8.

Chandler with an early home run for the Bears.

Dillion with his home run hit against the Merchants.

Merchants make it to second.

The Bears were not so lucky getting to second.

Chandler with another hit.

Quintin pitching against the Merchants.

Marso at bat against the Merchants.

Sam with a late hit against the Merchants.

The last game was Thursday morning against the North Sound Emeralds from Edmonds. The Bears lost 1-11 to them in seven innings.

Ian Tunner pitching against the Emeralds.

Matt with a close call at first.

Chris pitching against the Emeralds.

Grand Forks was a good tournament for the Bears to see how they stacked up against other teams. While it was not a super showing for the team, the Russian food, the warm rivers and lakes, and the friendliness of the people made the trip a lot of fun.

I also got to meet Rhonda Pauls, one of two certified female umpires for this level of baseball in all of B.C. She was the first woman ump at the Pan Can games in Japan, went to Cuba in 2012, is the VP of B.C.’s Baseball Board of Directors, and is a regular part of collegiate spring training in Arizona where she calls three or more games a day for two straight weeks.

She got started over 19 years ago at a Little League game that did not have an ump. She did not want a bunch of 11-year-olds to miss their game, so she called it. After that, people kept believing she had the stuff to work at higher and higher levels.

Rhonda said the hardest part of being an ump is learning the timing and angles to get the calls right. She loves how baseball comes down to things like who got to the plate first, the ball or the shoe, and having the confidence to know she has the call right. She told me it was important to be honest when teams asked umps to “Get Help” on a call. While it is rare for a call be reversed, it happens, and the umpires know how to be in the best position for each possible play to make sure they have all the angles covered and make the right call. She pointed out the instant replay in MLB has shown over 95% of the time, five guys with tons of slow motion video from every angle spend five minutes to come up with the same call the human umpire came up with in a split second on the field. Rhonda says that statistic was very self-affirming, the human umpires are making the right calls most of the time. She also worries it may get to a point the human interaction part of the game is lost. Coaches may stop arguing with umpires and throwing bases like Lou Piniella, but will call for booth reviews because a shoe spike was off the bag a millimeter or two for a split second, so the runner is really out. I had no idea how technical the game was from the umpire’s point of view!

I asked her what the strangest thing to happen her was. She told me about a tie game at Fort McMurray for Select-18. It was the bottom of the ninth and the winning run was on third. The ball was hit and this huge player came running home to slide in. The problem was this was a very fast field, so players slid a lot further a lot faster. She had moved into position to see if a tag would be made. The ball came in. The runner came in. The ball stopped. The runner did not, he slid past home plate and took her out like a bowling pin. She was flipped into the air and landed on home plate. All she could think was, “He missed the tag, he missed the tag…”

Finally, I asked what advice she had for young girls who were interested in going into male-dominated areas. First she talked about being thick skinned and learning to stand up for yourself, using the example of when she is on the field, she has to be fair and tough, otherwise, coaches, players, and even fans might try and walk all over her. She talked about how bullying from fans and teams makes it really hard on umpires, but in B.C. they developed a great training program to help umpires deal with it. The program has made a difference and they are not short on umpires in B.C. like other areas.

She ended with this piece of advice for girls everywhere:

“Don’t go into an area because people say women can’t do it, go into an area because you love it.”

She did not decide to become one of the highest certified female umpires because there were no other females, she did it because she loves the game and wanted to be the best she could be at it. Other people saw that and encouraged her to go to the next level. Need another example? Claire Eccles is the first female to pitch in the West Coast League…one of the players Rhonda helps mentor in this game of baseball.

Rhonda Pauls

Manager Justin asks for help on a call.

The call on the field stands.

More photos and stories of the Highline Bears games can be seen at Highline Bears by Isabel.

Tickets to Highline Bears home games are just $5 per person, and kids 12 and under – as well as all active/former service men & women – are admitted FREE! Tickets are available at the gate or online here:


Sat, 1 Jul 17 Kent Bulldogs Steve Cox Memorial 7:05 pm Buy Tickets
Mon, 3 Jul 17 Laces Marysville High School 5:30 pm  
Thr, 6 Jul 17 Everett Merchants NorBrock Stadium | Kamloops, BC 4:00 pm  
Fri, 7 Jul 17 Seattle Studs NorBrock Stadium | Kamloops, BC 4:00 pm  
Sat, 8 Jul 17 Okanagan NorBrock Stadium | Kamloops, BC 4:00 pm  
Sun, 9 Jul 17 TBD Kamloops, BC TBA
Tue, 11 Jul 17 Northwest Honkers Fall City Community Park 5:30 pm  
Wed, 12 Jul 17 NW Emeralds Edmonds CC 7:00 pm  
Thr, 13 Jul 17 Laces Steve Cox Memorial 7:05 pm Buy Tickets
Fri, 14 Jul 17 Seattle Studs Steve Cox Memorial 7:05 pm Buy Tickets
Sat, 15 Jul 17 Seattle Studs Steve Cox Memorial 7:35 pm Buy Tickets
Sun, 16 Jul 17 Everett Merchants Everett Memorial Stadium 1:00 pm
Sun, 16 Jul 17 Everett Merchants Everett Memorial Stadium 3:00 pm
Tue, 18 Jul 17 Wenatchee Applesox Wenatchee, WA 7:05 pm  
Wed, 19 Jul 17 NW Emeralds Edmonds CC 7:00 pm  
Thr, 20 Jul 17 Seattle Studs University of Puget Sound 5:30 pm  
Fri, 21 Jul 17 Everett Merchants Steve Cox Memorial 7:05 pm Buy Tickets
Sat, 22 Jul 17 Northwest Honkers Steve Cox Memorial 7:05 pm Buy Tickets
Wed, 26 Jul 17 Walla Walla Sweets Walla Walla, WA 7:05 pm  
Thr, 27 Jul 17 Walla Walla Sweets Walla Walla, WA 7:05 pm  
Fri, 28 Jul 17 NW Emeralds Steve Cox Memorial 7:05 pm Buy Tickets

Thank you for your time and consideration,
– Isabel H

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