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Losses put Buff softball in must-win scenario

by: Photo By Gary Lindberg - Thanks to a hard slide, Madras’ JoElla Smith was safe at second base when The Dalles-Wahtonka shortstop Cindy Garrett was unable to hang onto the ball. Smith had two hits including a triple but the visiting Eagle Indians won 10-7 in Thursday’s game.

Win three out of four.
   That's the goal, if not reality for Madras softball this week to stay in the Intermountain Conference playoff race. The White Buffalos host IMC co-leader Pendleton in a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader. Madras also hosted Crook County in a Tuesday, April 22 doubleheader (played after press time).
   Madras goes into this week seeking to break a two-game losing streak. The Buffs lost twice to co-IMC leader The Dalles-Wahtonka after the team was tied atop the IMC standings (with Pendleton).
   Now, Madras is a game out of fourth place and a spot in the 5A state playoffs. Crook County and Summit are tied for third place entering this week.
   "This is the heart of our season," Madras coach Shawna McConnell said. "We definitely have to sweep Crook County and then split with Pendleton."
   TDW 10, Madras 7: Errors wiped out a solid comeback effort in the battle of IMC leaders on Tuesday, April 15.
   "We had a few more errors and our errors killed us," said McConnell of giving up six unearned runs. "Our defense didn't back up our pitchers. That makes it tough on them."
   The fifth was the most expensive. The Eagle Indians scored three runs, half unearned on three errors. Two errors came on one play with the bases loaded on an attempted force play at home.
   That spoiled a comeback the Buffs rallying from a 4-1 deficit after the second inning. The Eagle Indians scored three runs in the first on a two-out triple with an error factoring in to make all of the runs unearned.
   Madras started to come back with JoElla Smith hitting a triple and scoring on Marisa Hulsey's single. The Buffs tied the score in the third with a trio of runs on four hits and a three-base error. Smith and Hulsey both singled with a Kara Katchia double driving in a run. An error on Danny Palmer's liner scored two more runs.
   A quick two runs put the Buffs ahead in the fourth. Maycee Abendschein hit a double and Hansina Martin followed with a home run to right center.
   "That was a big hit for Hansina," McConnell said. "Some teams might put a weaker hitter in the ninth spot, but Hansina can hit the ball."
   Madras' lead didn't last an inning. TDW went ahead with its big fifth inning.
   The Buffs outhit the visitors 10-9 with senior shortstop Sarah Leutwiler recording three singles. Smith and Katchia added two hits each.
   Hulsey suffered the loss despite allowing just three earned runs of the nine the junior surrendered. Hulsey gave up eight hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Rachel Aimone pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, allowed one unearned run, a hit and a walk while striking out four.
   TDW 6, Madras 1: The Buffs managed only one hit, a run-scoring double by Leutwiler in the fourth inning.
   "We didn't show up ready to play," McConnell said. "It was a lot like our loss at Summit (7-0 on April 3) when we had a lack on intensity."
   The hosts jumped ahead with a four-run first off Abendschein, a freshman starter. One of those runs was unearned as Madras had two errors.
   "Maycee did a good job, but we didn't back her up in the field," McConnell said. "We need to get Maycee innings and The Dalles already hit Marisa and Rachel."