The University of Washington commit hit .605 with 63 RBI last year leading Meadowdale to the Class 3A state title.
Emma Helm crouches behind home plate and slips into game mode.
This is her domain, where she directs her teammates and dictates the defense.
Helm is clearly the leader of the Meadowdale High School softball team, one who sets the tone through her attitude and actions. And this is where she is in her element.
5 to watch
Woodinville: The Falcons fell just short of their Class 4A title bid last year, finishing second, and are primed for another run with 12 returning players.
Snohomish: Last year’s Class 4A state champs are among the 3A favorites this spring with a bevy of experienced players in the lineup.
Meadowdale: With all but four starters back from last year’s Class 3A title team, led by catcher Emma Helm, the Mavericks should make noise again.
Auburn Mountainview: The Lions reached the Class 3A state tournament with a young squad last season and shouldn’t miss a beat stepping up to 4A in the NPSL.
Monroe: Wesco 4A was loaded last year and Monroe just missed a state berth, leaving this group especially hungry for more success.
McKenzie Schulz, Monroe (Jr., pitcher): The hard-throwing left-hander (a UW commit) has an assortment of pitches and is a key reason the Bearcats are among the Class 4A state favorites.
Sami Reynolds, Snohomish (Jr., pitcher/outfielder): Whether on the mound or in center field, Reynolds keys the Panthers’ success. UW commit sprays hits and has outstanding speed.
Maddie Morgan, Lynnwood (Sr., shortstop): Morgan, who committed to Alabama as a freshman, is a two-time Star Times selection who delivers big plays with her glove and bat.
Zoe Collins, Auburn Mountainview (Sr., pitcher/outfielder): The left-hander leads a loaded offense with speed to burn and is also consistent on the mound.
Tori Bivens, Lake Washington (Sr., pitcher/utility): Bivens, signed with Boise State, is the reigning KingCo 3A/2A MVP and showed maturity as a freshman, when she pitched LW to the 2A state title.
“I feel like I’m just in my own little world back there, and I have a lot of fun,” Helm said of her penchant for catching. “I can see everything that’s going on and I get to be vocal and help verbalize what needs to go on.”
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Once a pitcher, following in her older sister’s footsteps, Helm often asked her coaches if she could catch for an inning or two.
“I like it because it was the other side of pitching,” she said. “I just started doing it more and more and I loved it.”
Helm officially transitioned her freshman year at Meadowdale, and has been the Mavericks’ full-time catcher ever since. She keyed their run to the Class 3A state championship last spring – a memory that still makes her smile.
“It was definitely one of the best things ever,” she said. “We were just so close as a team and the whole season had been so great, it was like the icing on the cake. We knew we could do it, and we wanted it so bad. We just went out and did it, and it was the greatest feeling.”
Helm, who committed to the University of Washington as a junior, batted .605 with 45 extra-base hits and 63 RBI last season, earning Star Times honors.
But the only numbers she really cares about are the victories.
“Emma never puts herself first; she is always about the team,” coach Dennis Hopkins said. “She’s a hard worker who is always encouraging those around her to push themselves. Her success and the team’s success are one and the same.”
Her reputation – as a player and a person – is well known in Wesco.
“Every great team starts with a talented leader behind the plate. Emma is every bit of that,” Everett coach Mike Millar said, citing her talents on offense as well as defense. “Emma is obviously a great player, but she is also a much respected opponent that always handles herself with class.”
When the Mavericks need a key hit, Helm is often the one to deliver.
“Emma is a really clutch hitter,” senior teammate Lauren Dent said. “Even if she doesn’t get a strike, she’s able to get her bat on the ball. If there’s a tight situation, she’s always able to pull out a hit to score runs or advance the runner.”
Dent, the team’s top returning pitcher, calls her a calming force behind the plate.
“As a catcher, I think what makes her better than everyone else is that she makes sure as a pitcher I feel comfortable,” she said. “If I’m struggling, she’ll take time to come talk to me about what’s working and what’s not and why. She’s really trusting behind the plate.”
Helm trusts that the Mavs can make another run at a championship, although she said the focus now is just taking it game by game and building another bond between the returning players and newcomers.
“Our end goal is to get back to state and try to repeat and defend the title,” she said.