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Banks softball stays unbeaten against a brutal early schedule

In its quest to remain at the top of the state softball heap, Banks keeps lining up bigger and bigger opponents.

And the Lady Braves keep knocking them down.

Playing at the North Medford Spring Break Invitational last month, Banks rolled to convincing victories against perennial Class 4A state power Henley (7-4), 5A playoff qualifier Dallas (10-6), plus 6A foes Grants Pass (9-6) and David Douglas (10-0).

For good measure, the Lady Braves routed Corbett 14-0 on March 31, improving their early-season record to a perfect 5-0.

“Things are going well,” Banks coach Jenny Compton said. “Those were good matchups for us to have early in the season. I thought the girls did a really great job.”

Banks hasn’t played since that Rainier victory due to three straight rainouts, but the Lady Braves will put their unbeaten record on the line twice more this week, traveling to West Albany on Thursday and Southridge on Friday.

West Albany advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals last season, and Southridge was a 6A playoff qualifier a year ago.

“We’ve got a couple challenging games at the end of this week which will be good for us. We’ve got to challenge ourselves and push our boundaries to get better,” Compton said. “When you play up a class, generally speaking they’ll have a stronger lineup all the way through, plus you tend to see more kids who’ve played ASA (summer) ball.

“I like seeing a variety of opponents — you get to see pitchers with different styles or coaches with different styles. It’s good for us.”

The biggest question mark for Banks going into this season was in the pitching circle after the Braves lost senior Kaylin VanDomelen to graduation. She pitched Banks to its second consecutive 4A state title last spring, and this year she has logged 56 innings for the University of North Dakota.

So far this year, Banks has used a combination of Hannah VanDomelen, Tiffany Snyder and Courtney Ragsdale in a variety of situations, and Compton said she has been pleased with all three pitchers.

“All three of them have seen some innings and it’s really worked out well,” Compton said. “These early games have allowed us to split up the innings pitching-wise, and it works out well because we get to change pitchers so the hitters are always seeing something different.”

Offensively, the Braves appear to be in midseason form already, averaging 10 runs per game against some top-notch competition.

“The lineup has been doing really well,” Compton said. “We’ve shuffled some people around here and there, but we’ve done a good job of creating offense all the way through the lineup.”

Banks will open Cowapa League play next Tuesday with a home game against Yamhill-Carlton, followed by a home doubleheader against Scappoose next Friday.

Compton is confident her team will be ready for the grind of another tough league season.

“There are always some fine-tuning adjustments you can make, but things are going really well so far,” she said.

“I think these girls are really motivated. They’re excited and focused, but still really relaxed. They aren’t afraid of any challenges.”

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