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Banks wins third league title

Braves clip Yamhill-Carlton to clinch their third straight Cowapa League softball title
by: Chase Allgood, Banks catcher Aubrey Rue leaps into the arms of teammate Kaylin Vandomelen after the Lady Braves beat Yamhill-Carlton 2-0 last Tuesday.

When it comes to winning a Cowapa League championship, Banks softball coach Jenny Compton will do just about anything, even if it means raiding the Braves' JV team in the middle of a game.

In a move borrowed from longtime Banks and Gaston softball coach Jerry Mettee, who frequently plucked JV players off the bench to sub into his varsity games, Compton jogged over to the JV field last Tuesday afternoon looking for a pinch runner to replace injured star Marla Gooding.

Although the Banks JV team had to play an inning with only eight players, fleet-footed freshman Tiffany Snyder provided the varsity squad with an instant boost, stealing a base and scoring what proved to be the winning run in a dramatic sixth-inning rally that lifted the Lady Braves to a 2-0 victory over Yamhill-Carlton and effectively locked up Banks' third straight league title.

'It was very exciting,' Compton said. 'There was a lot on the line. The girls were really pumped up - they had amazing energy for the game.'

Having split with Yamhill-Carlton earlier this season, Tuesday's win gave Banks a leg up in the league championship race, and after the Lady Braves swept a doubleheader against Astoria on Friday, they locked up the program's third straight outright league title, and fourth in a row dating back to a three-way tie for first place in 2009.

'The girls are excited, and I think they're really hungry - I could see it in them against Y-C,' Compton said. 'They brought an energy to that game that I haven't seen in them yet this year. I hope they keep feeding off that energy.'

Yamhill-Carlton threatened in the top of the first, but a stellar defensive play by Hannah Vandomelen kept the Tigers off the scoreboard and shifted the momentum in Banks' favor.

Rebecca Christianson led off the game with a single and Delaney Ogden doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. Madison Ogden hit what appeared to be a sacrifice fly to left field, but Vandomelen unleashed a perfect throw to nail Christianson at home plate and thwart an early scoring opportunity for the Tigers.

After that, Banks pitcher Marla Gooding and Yamhill-Carlton starter Molly Smith settled into a pitcher's duel with five innings of scoreless softball before Banks busted the game open in the sixth.

With one out, Gooding was hit on the kneecap by a pitch, prompting Compton to raid her JV team for a pinch runner. Enter Snyder, who stole second base, then advanced to third on a fielding error. The freshman scored the winning run when she alertly dashed home on a passed ball third strike, and another run came home on an errant throw to first base.

'It was a great game, and it could have gone either way,' Compton said. 'They had a few timely errors and we had some luck that went our way. There were a lot of things that happened in that (sixth) inning that went our way.'