Braves fall to Henley in state semifinals
KLAMATH FALLS For a moment, it looked as if Banks had the mojo to pull off one more dramatic playoff victory.
Henley wasn't about to let that happen.
In the semifinals of the Class 4A softball state playoffs on Tuesday, ninth-seeded Banks fell behind early but surged ahead of No. 4 Henley on MaKenna Partain's two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning. That shot energized the visitors' dugout and had the Braves on the verge of making their third straight state title game appearance, but the Hornets' answer was swift and decisive.
Henley (25-5) capitalized on two Banks miscues in the bottom of the fifth an error and a hit batter to plate two runs and regain the lead, and the Hornets added an insurance score in the sixth for a 4-3 victory that ended the Braves' season.
For Banks (23-4), the two-time defending state champions, Tuesday's loss was a bitter pill to swallow, but the Braves gave Henley a run for its money.
The Hornets drew first blood in the bottom of the third. Freshman catcher McKenna Armantrout laced a leadoff double, then stole third base and came home on McKenzie Brown's sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Banks put a runner in scoring position in the first, third and fourth innings but couldn't scratch out a run against Henley starter Kelly Scott, but Partain changed that in the fifth when she turned on a pitch and drove it over the fence in right-center field. The blast scored Hannah VanDomelen, who had reached on an infield single, and gave Banks a 2-1 lead.
It didn't last long.
In the bottom of the frame, Henley freshman Jess Pettigrew tied the score with an RBI single to left field, and two batters later senior Sam Vezo put the home team ahead with an RBI single to center.
One inning later, Henley senior Tara Moates ripped an RBI double into the gap in right-center field for a 4-2 advantage.
That insurance score would prove critical, as Banks put two runners on in the top of the seventh and pulled within 4-3 on Madison Seed's chopper through the right side of the infield, but the game ended one batter later when Molly Hammond's hot shot to shortstop resulted in a force out at third.
Henley will face No. 2 McLoughlin (22-3) for the 4A state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Oregon State Softball Complex in Corvallis.
For a complete story and photos from Tuesday's game, please pick up a copy of the June 11 edition of the News-Times.