Softball's a game often dominated by pitching, and Gladstone pitcher Madi Mott sent Banks a harsh reminder of such in the OSAA 4A State Softball Quarterfinals, May 26 at Banks High School.
The returning 4A Pitcher of the Year befuddled the Braves, allowing just six hits, striking out 10, and holding Banks scoreless in a 3-0 road win. Gladstone got timely hits from junior Emily Clinkscales and senior catcher Kinzi McLeod, and rode the power and precision of Mott's arm to a semi-final matchup with Crook County Tuesday, May 30.
"I was hoping we'd be able to get on Madi early in the game," said Banks head coach James Wise. "She's a great pitcher and we knew she had a lot of good pitches. She had the meat of our lineup really guessing."
Her brilliance didn't go unnoticed by Gladstone head coach David Just either.
"That's a great ball club over there," a teary-eyed Just said referring to Banks. "Madi did a great job. She kept them off base, kept them off balance, I'm really proud of her and this team."
The Gladiators didn't waste any time getting on the board when Sabrina Ward led off with a single, stole second, then after consecutive strikeouts, scored the game's first run when Clinkscales singled to right field to make it 1-0. The score would stay the same until the third inning, when Gladstone used a couple walks from Banks starting pitcher Michaela Shaw, then another timely single from McLeod to double the lead to 2-0.
"We pushed the right buttons today," said Just. "We got a steal, a ground ball got through, we had some great situational hits."
Banks unfortunately had a timely miscue which thwarted their one and only rally, and arguably turned the tide of the game in Gladstone's favor for good.
In the bottom half of that third inning, the Braves' Karlie Gerlinger led off with a double to left centerfield. Banks' Keegan Wise followed that with an infield hit, then stole second to put runners on second and third with nary an out. On the next pitch to junior outfielder Mackenzie Davis, the ball went to the backstop and Gerlinger hesitated at third before darting for the plate, only to be called out on the tag by Mott. Opposed to having runners on second and third with none out, the Braves were left with Wise at third, one out, and two eventual put-outs to end the inning without a Banks run.
"If we'd have seen it sooner I think she would've been safe, but she got a late jump and you don't want to call 'em back in that scenario," said Wise. "I think that took the wind out of our sails."
Just agreed that it was a big moment in the game.
"To wiggle off the hook in that third was huge," said the coach. "To get a strikeout and a pop up in that situation, that's shutting it down."
Gladstone made it 3-0 in the fifth, when after an initial out, Mott reached when her deep fly ball to right center was dropped, which allowed her to get to second base. A hitter later, Clinkscales singled to right to drive in her second run of the game and build an even bigger cushion for Mott who appeared to be on cruise control in the circle.
The senior, who's headed to North Idaho College in the fall, put Banks down in the last two innings, the final out coming with a signature strikeout.
"I'm filled with excitement because they're a great team," said Mott. "I knew if our bats came alive we could win, and they did."
There was no excitement in the Banks huddle after the game, but Coach Wise was sure to remind the girls – and primarily the seniors – all they'd accomplished in their tenure as Braves.
"I made the girls turn around and look at our accomplishments on the sign out there," said Wise. "I told them not to walk off of this field thinking this one game defines your career at Banks. A lot of wins, a lot of awards, they should be proud of their accomplishments here."
And he's right. But while losing a strong senior class, Wise is optimistic that you haven't seen the last of Banks softball making deep postseason runs.
"We had a number of people say that our JV could've been pretty competitive with the midlevel 4A schools," he said. "So we need to get a good offseason from them, but I think we'll be in good shape."