Braves prep for first-place showdown
Banks rolls to three more wins, setting up a game against Yamhill-Carlton for first in the standings
Banks has dominated the Cowapa League softball scene for going on three years now, but this week the Lady Braves will get a challenge from rival Yamhill-Carlton.
Banks and Y-C both enter the week with identical 11-1 records in league play, having split their doubleheader on April 20. That means this week's showdown will likely decide the regular season league champion.
'Oh yeah, this is the big one,' said Banks head coach Jenny Compton. 'I think it's going to be a good game. Luckily for us, this isn't something that's foreign to (the girls) - coming into a big game like this. We'll be prepared.'
Banks (17-4, 11-1) tuned up for this week's showdown with three league wins last week, starting with a 6-1 victory over Scappoose on Tuesday and ending with 11-0 and 24-0 wins in a doubleheader against Seaside on Friday.
The Lady Braves jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Marla Gooding's solo home run in the first inning of Tuesday's game against Scappoose, then broke things open with two runs in the fifth inning and two more in the seventh.
Hannah Vandomelen reached on an error in the fifth and she came around to score on sister Kaylin Vandomelen's RBI single down the left-field line. Gooding followed with a single to right field that scored another run and made it 4-1.
In the seventh, Riley Gerlinger reached base on a single and Kaylin Vandomelen capped the scoring with a two-run home run to left field.
Gooding earned the win in the pitcher's circle, striking out three batters in seven innings while allowing five hits and one earned run.
Banks' offense was in peak form on Friday against Seaside, cruising to a five-inning, 11-0 win in the first game of the doubleheader, then erupting for 23 hits and 24 runs in the nightcap.
Kaylin Vandomelen led the way in the opener, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Melissa Masters also drove in three runs, including a two-run home run in the second inning that scored Gooding and jump-started the offensive fireworks.
Eight different Banks players had multiple hits in the second game, led by Gerlinger, who went 4-for-5 with four RBIs. Lexi Chung was 2-for-3 with a triple and a game-high six RBIs, while Gooding, Masters and Natalie Larsen each recorded three hits. Aubrey Rue, Hannah Vandomelen and Kaylin Vandomelen had two hits apiece in the rout.
'We got contributions from everybody, up and down the lineup. We hit the ball really well,' Compton said.
Masters pitched the first game on Friday, striking out 11 batters and allowing one hit over five innings. Kaylin Vandomelen threw a five-inning no-hitter in the second game, striking out nine batters while allowing only one baserunner.
With last week's games in the books, Banks can now turn its attention to this week's title showdown with Yamhill-Carlton, followed by a season-ending doubleheader against Astoria.
'I think we're prepared,' Compton said. 'It's a game just like any other game. We just need to be confident and focused on executing. I think being comfortable and confident is really the key.'
In their first meeting with Y-C, the Lady Braves rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh to win the first game 2-0, but the Tigers took the second game 3-2 with a seventh-inning rally of their own.
The rubber match will determine not only the regular-season league champion, but also which team takes the league's No. 1 seed into the 4A state playoffs, which begin with play-in games on May 18.
'We've prepared just like we normally do,' Compton said. 'We're ready for this particular team and this particular pitcher. It should be a really good game. We're excited.'