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MHS fastpitch rallies to win

by: Photo By Gary Lindberg - By scoring on a wild pitch in the fifth inning, Sarah Leutwiler helped start Madras' comeback to beat Crook County in the Intermountain Conference opener for both teams.

In good and bad ways, the 21st out was elusive in a pair of Madras fastpitch softball games.
   The White Buffalos won their Intermountain Conference opener against Crook County in extra innings. Madras also split a nonleague doubleheader against Henley, falling in extra innings of the second game.
   The Buffs are busy this week, playing six games. Four are part of the Sisters tourney with games at noon and 2 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Madras also hosted Ashland on Tuesday, March 27 (played after press time).
   Madras 6, Crook County 5: Two strikes with two outs still gave the Buffs a chance to force a tie and ultimately an IMC victory.
   Madras was down to its last out in the seventh before Kara Katchia hit a run-scoring double to extend the game. The Buffs were then down to their last strike when Hulsey delivered a game-tying triple in the eighth.
   "I was looking to make contact; not trying to hit it anywhere but just make contact," Hulsey said.
   That worked as Hulsey drilled a shot to center. It easily scored Sarah Leutwiler who started the rally with a two-out single.
   Danielle Palmer followed with a five-foot swinging bunt which kept Hulsey at third.
   Destry Begay then ended the game with another shot up the middle. Begay used the "see the ball, hit the ball" approach for the game-ending hit.
   "My head was empty; I wasn't thinking about anything," Begay said.
   Any rally seemed unlikely going into the fifth inning. Unbeaten Crook County (at 3-0) owned a 4-0 lead.
   "Before the fifth, we had a pep talk," Madras coach Shawna McConnell said. "We were making their pitcher (Hayley Porterfield) look much better than she really is."
   As in Porterfield recording most of her 10 strike outs in the first four innings.
   The Buffs pounded out most of their 11 hits from the fifth inning on. That included doubles by Shirelle Adams and Whitley Ruiz.
   The Cowgirls also managed just one run after the fifth, that an unearned tally in the eighth. Hulsey had just two strikeouts, but walked only three.
   "I used my riseball a lot more," said Hulsey of slowing down the Crook County hitters after the first four innings.
   Madras 4-6, Henley 1-9: The Buffs were an out from a sweep, leading 6-3 with two outs in the seventh of the second game. Then a hit batter, two errors and two hits allowed Henley to score three runs.
   The Hawks followed with a three-run eighth on five hits and a pair of Madras errors.
   All that spoiled the Buff's earlier comeback when they trailed 3-0 going into the fourth. Then a error, sacrifice fly by Hulsey and RBI double by Palmer forced a 3-all tie.
   An inside-the-park homer by Adams put Madras ahead in the fifth. Adams' hit came after singles by Alysha Urbach and Jessica Glaspie.
   In the opener, Madras jumped ahead 2-0 in the first. Holly Martin and Katchia drove in both runs. The Buffs added to that lead, scoring runs in the fourth and fifth frames thanks to wild pitches.
   Those runs were plenty for Hulsey who pitched a shutout into the sixth. The sophomore allowed just three hits, two on consecutive doubles in the sixth.