Sweet Home survived Madras High's final bid for one more comeback Friday in a non-league high school softball game at Madras to pull out a 7-5 win.
Madras coach Dick Souers, in his second tour as a Madras coach, said the girls showed some spark during their opening salvo of games last week, despite the loss to Sweet Home leaving it 1-2. An 11-3 loss to Bend in its opening game was overcome by Madras with a 17-6 win over La Pine.
The pitching of freshmen Verna Mitchell and Heather Ben plus Allison Marshall was just one reason Souers expressed hopes for further improvement from Madras by the time league games roll along.
Having Tara Prow reach base to start the bottom of the seventh against Sweet Home then move along on a wild pitch put her in position to score and pull Madras back to within two runs, at 7-5, after a fifth-inning rally by Sweet Home with Marshall on the mound had scored four.
There were plenty of highlights for the Madras girls as they readied for the second week of non-league competition noted by Souers.
Hits by not just Mitchell, but catcher Meghan Smith, plus Rylee Sweeney, at different times, helped the Madras attack during the week. Sweeney was the biggest spark against Sweet Home, however, with two singles and a double in her first game back since helping Madras win the girls basketball state championship.
Souers said he is still trying out a variety of lineups seeking the best combination of defensive stoppers and offensive producers for Madras.
With no junior varsity game on Friday, after a 2-0 start by the youngsters, Souers gave a number of junior varsity players the chance to appear against Sweet Home.
Various Buffs came up with contributions in the field or at the plate without always coming up with an out or hit.
Second baseman Christina Barnes, for example, drove in Mitchell with a run that gave Madras a 4-3 lead over Sweet Home in the bottom of the fourth inning just be getting the bat on the ball and forcing a throw to first instead of home.
Earlier in the game there had been a similar play in which Smith drove home Mitchell after she had tripled between the Sweet Home left fielder and center fielder in the bottom of the second with Madras trailing 1-0.
The Madras attack had proved much more productive, helped along by a number of multiple-hit outings by the young women in their 17-6 defeat of La Pine.
The return of Sweeney and Barnes off the girls basketball team gives the softball Buffs more experience and lets some players move as Sweeney was being used at first base after playing some shortstop in the past. Barnes was back at second. With a mix of Prow at short and White Dove Cooper, Mitchell or Kassie Fox at third, the outfield could be in the hands of Helen Maldanado, Kristy Burmeister and Carina Miller or some other combination.
Isabel white and Halsie Knauf got a chance to help the varsity Friday against Sweet Home as they made contact a couple times despite not reaching base.
"We'll be working on a number of things before the league games get started," said Souers. He pointed to a need for Madras to perfect its bunts and slaps to get on base and move runners around.
Stranding two runners in the third and two more in the fourth was another frustration for Madras against Sweet Home. The Buffs are slated to visit Crook County Thursday in an effort to even their record.
That game begins a busy week for Madras as it returns home for a Friday game with Cascade before hosting Clatskanie in a doubleheader Saturday.
Madras measured up well, despite not scoring enough, in a game against Bend that started its season.
Though giving up 11 runs, Madras did score three in that loss. Fox's RBI of Smith in the first plus a hit by White Dove Cooper and Isabel White accounted for the runs .