HELENA — Helena Capital High softball pitcher Nicole Ames has an opportunity she's been working toward the last couple of seasons: to lead the Bruins softball team as the No. 1 pitcher.

Ames, who was a member of the Capital team that placed third in the Class AA softball tournament last season, split time with then Capital No. 1 pitcher, Shelby Martin.

Bruins skipper Mike Miller is excited about Ames leading a young team that lost a significant portion of the team.

"Not only is she an outstanding pitcher, but she is also one of (Capital's) best all-around players, and probably our top hitter," Miller said. "Toward the end of last season, she was good, and then great at summer hitting the ball. She is not only a good pitcher; she can play about anywhere and is certainly near the top of our (team's) hitting."

Ames was named to the first-team all-state team at the end of last season, and hopes to take on more of a leadership role on a team that graduated 10 seniors.

"This is the first time I've had the role of starting pitcher, "Ames said. "I don't think it changes too much because I've been playing up since I was a sophomore. Our team is used to each other, and we should be a real force to be reckoned with."

Since her freshman season, Ames is used to being thrown into the fire. where she had her first-ever Class AA state softball tournament experience.

"I think I remember walking the first batter, but after (facing the first batter) I was all right," Ames said. "I remember being very nervous pitching at state. It wasn't a great first experience, but it allowed me to get on my feet (moving forward)."

During her sophomore season, Ames gained more confidence in her ability as one of the team's key pitchers.

"I was maybe pitching every three games, and I pitched a lot more (at the varsity level) where I felt like I was getting a lot better," Ames said. "It gave me much confidence. I was put in a situation I wasn't quite ready for and knew I had to change my mentality, grow up and mix up my role on the team as a pitcher and a DH in my sophomore year."

Ames, an essential piece to the girls basketball team that placed fourth at state this past season, said she has always had an affinity for softball, despite excelling in multiple sports.

"Softball has always been my favorite sport, and I am really hoping to move on to college, but I would rather focus on serving others," Ames said.

Miller said he felt Ames had earned her position on the team.

"Nicole has earned her chance be the leader (on this team), and has been very good as our number two pitcher," Miller said. "Nicole would have been the number one on many teams in the last couple of years."

Ames, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, doesn't know where she will be stationed for her church mission when she turns 19, but she has filled out her papers and is ready to serve.

Ames, who will enter her final softball season with the Bruins, is just looking to have fun.

"I think the softball season is going to be a lot of fun," Ames said. "I enjoy pitching, and the mental aspect of the game. If you come out there (on the softball field) confident, it's going to be fun. I enjoy being surrounded by teammates and people, and the game of softball is just fun."

Jason Blasco is the lead prep sports reporter for the Helena Indepedent-Record and a sports reporter for the 406mtsports.com network.

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