MHS bows out, walks away in quarters

Buffs strike out at Central

by: Submitted Photo - Madras seniors, center, JoElla Smith, Maycee Abendschein and Alex Holcomb walk off the field May 25 after the White Buffalos defeated Sutherlin in the opening round of the Class 4A state softball playoffs thanks to Holcomb’s game-winning home run. Raylene Jones hugs Mallory Smith in the background. Madras went on to lose to Central May 27 in the 4A quarterfinals.

Not a lot of pitchers have found a way to cool the bats of the Madras High School softball squad this season.
   Central hurler Emily Kenyon found a way last Friday in the Class 4A OSAA state championship quarterfinals. The right-hander dominated Madras over seven innings, striking out 14 batters in leading the host Panthers past the White Buffalos 1-0.
   "She could throw and was legit," Madras head coach Shawna McConnell said of Kenyon. "She was by far the best pitcher we faced all year."
   Madras was seeking its first semifinal appearance in softball, after reaching the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1997, and qualifying for the quarterfinals for just the third time in school history.
   "I told the girls to hold their heads high after the game," McConnell said after MHS lost at Central. "We had a great season and no one can take our Tri-Valley Conference championship away from us."
   Kenyon picked up her 21st victory of the season, allowing one hit. She had complete control of the White Buffalos, striking out Madras' 1-2-3 batters nine times in nine plate appearances.
   "She had a long, slow delivery and it threw our girls off," McConnell said. "The girls had to wait and wait in the box and we couldn't adjust."
   Madras senior pitcher Maycee Abendschein countered with a terrific pitching effort. She tossed all seven innings, allowing three hits, while walking none and striking out four batters.
   "Maycee definitely came to compete," McConnell said. "She did everything we could have asked from her in the circle."
   Madras, however, broke down defensively in the second frame, committing two errors that led to one unearned run. In the second frame, Central's Linzie Wallace scored after she had an infield single and was moved around on two Madras fielding blunders.
   "We told the girls all year that we had to play flawlessly in the playoffs to win," McConnell said. "Unfortunately, we had a couple errors."
   Jamie Moe went 1 for 3 at the dish with a single and reached second base twice, but Madras was unable to move Moe past second.
   "I was shocked that we didn't hit," McConnell said. "All year long, we knew our girls would adjust and hit late in the game, but it just didn't happen."
   Kenyon set the tone early in the game, striking out the side with ease.
   "It seemed almost unreal that our girls struck out as many times as they did," McConnell said. "Sarah Brown, Jamie Moe and Alex Holcomb made contact, but it was right at people and we just couldn't find holes."
   After Central went up 1-0, Abendschein allowed just two base runners to finish the game, one of which Madras catcher JoElla Smith threw out trying to steal second in the fifth inning. The White Buffalos, however, only reached base three times and were unable to move a runner past second base.
   "The girls were really disappointed after the game," McConnell said. "Central was a strong opponent and to lose 1-0 was a tough loss for our team to swallow."
   Madras finished the season 22-6 overall and won the Tri-Valley Conference regular season championship with a roster filled with experienced seniors.
   "It's going to be very difficult to watch these seniors leave our program," McConnell said. "It was a great year and we will miss them all."
   Central faced defending champion Cascade in the semifinals Tuesday after press deadline. Henley hosted Ontario in the other Class 4A semifinal game Tuesday.
   The loss marked the second time Madras had lost to Central in the state championship softball tournament. The Panthers defeated Madras 12-0 in the opening round of the 3A state tournament in 1996.