Clatskanie pitcher Kinzee Stout didn't really stop Madras hitters in Saturday's first game of a non-league high school softball doubleheader at Madras.
She did, however, stump the White Buffalos enough to keep them from collecting the hits to match her Tiger teammates.
Madras hitters connected three times off Stout in the first inning alone but after that the ball seemed to seek out the Tigers' defenders, noted Madras head coach Dick Souers. Clatskanie's defense made three walks and three hits in a five-run fifth inning prove enough to catapult Clatskanie to a 7-2 win in game one. The second game of the non-league encounter was just as frustrating for Souers. Pairing two-run innings let Clatskanie claim a 4-3 victory.
Clatskanie made no more contact with the pitches offered up by Madras hurlers Verna Mitchell and Heather Ben than Madras made off Stout. But the Tigers used opportunity.
Stronger defense at fortuitous times and locations let Clatskanie field some Madras drives to spots where some Clatskanie clouts happened to elude the Madras fielder.
But the fielding of Madras outfielder Helen Maldanado kept the Buffs closer than they would have been without her stop of a couple of clouts by Clatsakanie, said Madras High head coach Dick Souers.
Moving down from the 3A Cowapa League to the 2A, Clatskanie eventually swept the Buffs.
Souers said Mitchell pitched well at times, but was not quite consistent enough on Saturday.
Its losses left Madras 2-5 overall.
"Even with some of our problems, We brought the winning run to the plate (in the second game)," said Souers.
"Clatskanie had some good pitchers. If we can keep making contact like we did, more hits should fall in," he said.
The freshmen each showed him ingredients that can turn them into effective pitchers, said Souers. They simply need to focus on specifics and practice, Souers said. For example, he said, Ben has shown more control. Added power could turn her ability to find the strike zone deadly for Madras foes, noted Souers. But Mitchell could be a quite potent pitcher too, as long as she learns to match her speed with accuracy.
If Madras gets all parts of its game to mesh, he is sure the Buffs can gain a playoff spot, the coach indicated. Early inning uprisings had Madras contending in both Saturday games, only to be disappointed.
Kassie Fox, a Madras sophomore, drove triples over third base and past Clatskanie's left fielder once in each game. The second-game blast was frustrating for Fox and Madras though. Fox was thrown out at the plate in the one-run game.
Fox broke for home on a grounder which Clatskanie's third baseman fielded cleanly to cut off the run.
Saturday's action favored Madras early, Souers said. Rylee Sweeney singled and Tara Prow doubled ahead of a Maldonado single. Its 2-0 lead was the biggest Madras had Saturday.
It scored twice in the second, but Clatskanie was shut down by Madras for two more innings after that.
Using a trio of walks sandwiched between two singles and a double, Clatskanie cruised toward its 7-2 lead.
That held up, thanks to defense.
There were more chances for Madras in the second game.
"I probably should have switched and started Heather (Ben) in the first game," said Souers.
A 7-2 March 27 win over Crook County highlighted the week for Madras. Five innings of pitching from Mitchell and two from Ben proved a winning formula.
Prow had three hits and catcher Meghan Smith had two hits in four at bats to power Madras past Crook County.
Yet, said Souers, Madras played one of its best games of the season the day before, even in defeat.
Cascade won the game 5-3, but Madras turned in some of its best defense and most consistent pitching March 26, Souers noted. There were only three walks surrendered in the full game, spread out in three different innings, by Mitchell and Ben. That was better than the two or three walks in single innings which had proven problematic in other games.
Souers said showing that kind of pitching and defense but with hitting closer to its showing against Crook County will be the team goal for this week.
Madras had a game at Mountain View in Bend scheduled earlier this week called off. On Saturday it hosts Sisters for an April 5 doubleheader.