Before the start of the spring season, Haley Cameron was wavering between softball and baseball at Davis High School.
So longtime Blue Devils softball assistant coach Dave Reuben figured he needed an edge to keep the versatile senior from returning to baseball, a sport she played as a freshman and sophomore.
"We met at a restaurant with a couple of other players who weren't sure if they were coming back to play, and I told her, 'Haley, if you play softball again, I'll buy you a frozen yogurt,' " Reuben said. "Her response, 'If you make it a big yogurt.' "
Reuben was more than happy to super-size, with sprinkles stacked on top, too.
Reuben and first-year head coach Art Guerra saw Cameron as a must-have player if the No. 16 Blue Devils hoped to make an impact in the Delta Valley Conference race and the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
A gifted athlete, strong student (4.0 grade-point average) and talented musician (she's a bassoonist in the school's symphonic band), Cameron has the perfect attitude for competition. She's calm and exacting on the exterior; fiery and tenacious on the interior.
"I've never seen her lose her cool," Reuben said. "She's always the same, regardless of whether she's struck out or hit a home run. She's got the perfect personality for an athlete."
And Guerra calls the 5-foot-7 Cameron a "coach's dream."
"She's got a great work ethic, and nothing seems to faze her," said Guerra, who coached previously at Natomas. "She could have two strikes on her, the bases loaded and be down by two runs and she's nonchalant at the plate but in a great way."
Cameron has spent much of her life playing baseball against the guys, taking in stride the odd looks and snarky comments sometimes directed her way.
As a sophomore, she was the left-handed closer and first baseman for Davis' junior varsity baseball team.
"It was more about playing time and that they needed me more for softball," Cameron said of her decision to play softball as a junior and again this year.
"I knew if I played baseball, I wouldn't pitch that much. But I miss it."
Cameron, who has made a seamless transition from being primarily a baseball pitcher to a softball first baseman, leads the Blue Devils with a .490 batting average and has not struck out in 54 plate appearances.
"Defensively, she has a great glove," Guerra said of Cameron, who has two errors in 104 chances. "She understands situational hitting, can hit to all fields and with power. I tease her all the time she should be playing softball next year at UC Davis."
But Cameron plans to eventually hang up the glove and spikes, unless it's for an impromptu pickup game, after signing an NCAA letter of intent to play water polo at UC Davis.
Cameron, a four-year starter at goalie, made all-Sac-Joaquin Section three times and helped Davis win three consecutive Division I section titles. Last fall, Cameron had 150 saves for her 29-4 team.
As much as she loves softball and baseball, water polo is her No. 1 sport, which she hopes to play professionally in Europe. It's also the only sport she plays right-handed.
"To me, it's different, it's unusual," Cameron said. "It's violent, aggressive and I like being in the water."
It's also a comfortable fit.
For years, Cameron played club water polo for UC Davis coach Jamey Wright. Cameron's close friend and water polo teammate is Wright's daughter Hailey, another UC Davis recruit.
Cameron and Hailey Wright's coach at Davis, Doug Wright, is Hailey's uncle, and several other UC Davis players are recent Davis High grads.
Cameron has family ties to UC Davis, too.
Her father and mother, Mike and Brenda, are both UC Davis alumni Brenda manages the marine biology laboratory at UCD and her grandfather, Hugh Cameron, was a founding faculty member of the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Before making the short trek from Davis High to UC Davis, Cameron hopes to give baseball one last hurrah.
Over the years, she has played in baseball tournaments in Florida, New York and Australia with a Chicago-based women's team, the Pioneers.
"I'd like to do it again, I'm just not sure it's going to fit in with everything I need to do with water polo," Cameron said. "We'll just have to wait and see."