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Softball girls close with clout

Senior White Dove Cooper homers in finale

   Sports Editor
   
   White Dove Cooper, Madras High's senior right fielder, had a truly grand finale as she closed her softball career for the White Buffalos on May 14.
   Cooper clouted a three-run home run to right center, right past where coach Dick Souers had mowed her name into the grass, as part of Madras's only 10-run win in league this season. The 12-0 Madras victory jolted Wilsonville enough to leave the visiting Wildcats looking as tame as if they'd been shocked by the Madras Police Department's 50,000-volt Taser gun rather than shot down by Cooper and her cohorts. Wilsonville quietly sat and listened to a lengthy lecture in the Madras outfield before boarding the bus back home.
   "I only have one question for you," Souers told Madras as it sat in its dugout after upping its final league record to 2-12.
   "Where was this all year?," asked Souers.
   The Madras coach, in his second stint at the school, said he was referring to the offense Madras showed to end its season on a high note. He said he hopes the win has the returnees, and only Cooper will depart, anxious to battle for fifth or fourth, at least, in the league in 2004. Improving is not concrete enough a goal to serve Madras sufficiently, Souers said. Making the playoffs is what some returning players need to turn into their goal, Souers added.
   "These girls can beat at least half the teams in this league. We should have been doing this all season," said Souers. He called the summer softball leagues or tournament teams of the area now competing a good place to gain added experience for next spring's high school season.
   Among the keys to the Friday win for the Buffs was their fielding, along with their hitting.
   Helen Maldonado, in center field, and Kassie Fox, in left, joined Cooper, in right, in not just belting out some extra base hits but in holding Wilsonville to fewer bases when it did send a shot off winning pitcher Heather Ben past the infielders.
   Not just Cooper homered for Madras. Fox got around the bases before a play could be made on her for the second time this season at home. Maldanado was among those chased around the bases by hits behind her but wound up having to slide home.
   Souers said the girls had worked on getting used to seeing the pitches by Wilsonville come slower than what they had seen from some other teams and being patient enough to hit them well. The practice paid off.
   Not just the outfielders but Tara Prow at third, Rylee Sweeney at short, Christina Barnes at second and Rhonda Reynolds at first all joined in on offense, as did catcher Meghan Smith. Four of those girls will be in their final season for Madras next spring.