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Braves' stellar season yields all-state, all-league awards

Eight Banks softball players are honored, led by junior shortstop MaKenna Partain

Opposing softball coaches and pitchers learned a hard truth this spring — Banks’ lineup was stacked from top to bottom, and there were no easy outs to be found anywhere.

 - Banks junior shortstop MaKenna Partain was recently selected as both the Cowapa League and Class 4A state player of the year.

The Braves put up prolific offensive numbers in 2015 on the way to a Cowapa League championship and a second-place finish in the Class 4A state playoffs, and they reaped the spoils of that success with eight players earning all-league and all-state honors.

At the top of that list was junior shortstop MaKenna Partain, who batted an astonishing .769 this season and was selected as both the league and state player of the year.

“That’s a great honor for her,” Banks head coach Jenny Compton said. “Her (batting average) was almost .800 this year. In the state, at any level, that’s almost unheard of. It was pretty amazing.

“Personally, I would never want to pitch to her because I don’t know what I would throw to her. And you can’t walk her because she can steal, so if you walk her you’re basically giving up a double.”

Indeed, Partain’s offensive exploits were eye-catching. She produced 70 hits in 91 at-bats and had a .794 on-base percentage, meaning opposing pitchers managed to get her out only 21 times all season. She had eight doubles, eight triples and three home runs, driving in 39 runs and scoring 57 more.

Partain was equally adept in the field. As the team’s everyday shortstop, she posted a .982 fielding percentage with only two errors all season.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Partain, who was also named the 4A state player of the year as a freshman in 2013. “I’ve worked hard for my softball career, so it’s nice to be rewarded every once in a while with those kinds of things. I’m very, very excited about it.”

As good as she has been already, the best may be yet to come for Partain, who returns next year for her senior season after verbally committing to the University of Minnesota.

“The recruiting process is a really stressful thing if you let it get to you,” Partain said. “I love Minnesota. It’s the perfect place for me. So I’m really excited, but it definitely does relieve a lot of stress on me.”

One thing is for sure — Partain is not about to rest on her laurels.

“I’m always trying to get better with everything,” she said. “I’m not a person to ever be satisfied. I like to always try to get better.”

Partain was hardly the only Banks player to put up big offensive numbers this season. As a team, the Braves batted .499 — with seven players hitting .400 or better — and scored 306 runs, which was the second most in Class 4A this season.

Seniors Hannah VanDomelen and Madison Soper were first team all-state selections, while Tiffany Snyder, Madison Seed and Mary Schorn were second team all-state picks. Kindel Bailey landed on the third team, and Keegan Wise was an honorable mention selection. All seven players were also Cowapa League all-stars.

“Not all of the coaches (who vote) get to see our kids play, so it’s nice that they were recognized at the state level,” Compton said. “I’m very amazed and grateful for the recognition that these kids have gotten.”

Soper turned in a monster senior year, batting .568 with 10 doubles, two triples, one home run and a team-high 53 RBIs. She scored 30 runs and struck out only four times all year.

VanDomelen also turned some heads this spring with a .644 batting average that included 58 hits, 17 doubles, four triples and one home run. She scored 49 runs and had 27 RBIs. Meanwhile, VanDomelen went 11-2 in the pitcher’s circle with a 1.99 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 88 innings of work.

Snyder pitched the second-most innings on the team (64.2) and finished with an 11-1 record and a 2.92 ERA. Offensively, she batted .327 and had 11 RBIs. Seed finished her senior year with a .456 batting average that included 31 hits, 19 RBIs and 14 runs scored.

Schorn enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign that included a .554 batting average, 51 hits, eight doubles, 32 RBIs and 49 runs scored.

Bailey batted .400 as a senior with 24 hits, seven doubles, 14 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

Wise, only a freshman, ended the year with a .449 average. She had two doubles, three triples, 17 RBIs and 34 runs scored.


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