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Banks doubles down with softball championship

Braves sweep a doubleheader versus Astoria to clinch their sixth league title since 2010

SCAPPOOSE — Banks got there in the end. It just took a few extra days.

Last Tuesday’s Cowapa League softball matchup between the Braves and Scappoose had more on the line than normal — even though something is always on the line when these rivals get together.

Banks would have wrapped up the league title with a win, while the Indians needed a favorable result to push the title race to the final day of the regular season.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Banks senior MaKenna Partain winds up to deliver a pitch during the Braves' game against Scappoose last Tuesday.

Scappoose got what it wanted, snapping Banks’ 14-game win streak with a wild 17-10 victory to keep its hopes momentarily alive. But Banks slammed that door closed on Friday with a sweep of Astoria on Senior Night, with 8-3 and 9-3 victories securing its sixth conference championship in the last seven seasons.

Even in the immediate aftermath last Tuesday, the Braves (18-3, 14-1) were determined to use the loss as a learning tool.

“We were just like, you know, we’re not really upset this game,” senior MaKenna Partain said. “It was a good learning experience for us. Sometimes it’s almost good to get knocked down a few levels before you go into playoffs, so you know you’re not invincible and people can score on you and if you don’t play to your best, they’re going to win.”

With both pitching staffs struggling in the circle, the offenses combined for an eye-popping 39 hits.

Banks took a 2-0 lead in the first on Michaela Shaw’s two-RBI single into right field. But Scappoose (22-4, 13-2) scored five runs in the first and four in the second to go ahead 9-3. The Braves rallied for five scores in the third to cut its deficit to 9-8, but the Indians outscored them 8-2 the rest of the way.

Partain, who had four hits and three RBIs on offense, replaced Shaw in the circle in the first and then Shaw reentered in the fourth to close it out. For Scappoose, Kendal Bailey also struggled and was replaced by Nicole Dougherty in the fourth.

Second baseman Mary Schorn called the outing “just one of those days.” She also presciently described how her team would react to the setback.

“It’s our home field, so we like to play at home,” she said about Friday’s doubleheader. “It will be fun. Just gotta come out strong and just take it to them.”

Head coach James Wise echoed a similar mindset.

“Now we just need to take care of Astoria, because our goal was to win league,” Wise said. “Once that officially happens, then we can start setting our eyesights to bigger things down the road.”

The Braves can now shift their gaze those bigger things, as they did indeed take care of the Fisherman.

In the first game, Banks scored six runs in the first inning to set the tone. Partain hit a home run and Gabby Eckhardt had an RBI. In all, Partain had four hits and Mackenzie Davis and Keegan Wise supplied two hits apiece, while Schorn had two RBIs.

Shaw was solid in a complete-game effort in the circle, scattering eight hits and striking out two.

In the nightcap, Eckhard swatted three hits, Hannah and Emma McCourt combined for five RBIs, and Partain added two.

Freshman Kaylin Hernandez went the distance in a five-hitter, striking out seven. Astoria (16-9, 9-6) knotted up the game at 2-2 midway through the third, but the Braves responded with three runs in the bottom half, one in the fourth and three more in the fifth to pull away.

While waiting to learn the identity of its first-round Class 4A state playoff opponent, Banks is scheduled to travel to Canby for a nonleague contest on Thursday. As the No. 3 seed in the playoff field, the Braves will host their first-round game on May 25.