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Lady Braves crave state title

Banks will settle for nothing less than league and state championships in 2011

The 2011 Banks softball team has two crystal-clear goals for the upcoming season - win the Cowapa League and, more importantly, win the state title.

And if you think those might be heady expectations for the Braves, consider this: they came within one run, one inning really, of winning it all in 2010.

All nine starters return, including the Class 4A State Player of the Year, Cowapa League Pitcher and Player of the Year and three other all-state players.

So it's understandable why the Lady Braves have their sights set on the league title and beyond.

'It is very exciting to have the caliber of athletes we have in Banks,' head coach Jenny Compton said. 'The individual awards help indicate the success the team had last year, and hopefully will be again this year.'

That success begins with sophomore Kaylin Vandomelen, the reigning 4A state player of the year. Vandomelen will team with juniors Melissa Masters and Marla Gooding as a three-headed monster on the mound for a team that allowed only 30 runs last season, just over one run per game. Masters returns as the reigning Cowapa Pitcher of the Year, while Gooding returns as the reigning Player of the Year.

We are very fortunate to have the two of them and Marla Gooding,' Compton said. 'These three pitchers are wonderful athletes and we look forward to their continued contributions both offensively and defensively.'

Both Gooding and Masters will play shortstop when not on the mound. Joining them in the infield will be juniors Chelsie Bunn and Alexis Applebee, who are slated to play first base. Sophomores Riley Gerlinger and Alexis Chung will find time at second base, while sophomore Courtney Engeseth will anchor third.

Sophomore Aubrey Rue, who captured third-team all-state honors last season, will catch.

The outfield will be patrolled by Vandomelen, fellow all-state honoree junior Natalie Larsen, Gerlinger and Chung. A trio of freshmen, Molly Hammond, Taylor Herb, and Tabatha Murdock will also see some time this season for the Lady Braves.

All the returning talent and accolades mean the Braves are eager to erase the bad memories of last season's title game against Cascade from their minds. The team, who'd averaged over seven runs a game, was held to one run and four hits. They also committed three errors.

'It makes us even more hungry to win a title,' Compton said of last season's defeat.

Which is a very real possibility not only for this season but next season as well.