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Braves readyfor anotherdeep run instate playoffs

Banks softball hopes to find itself back in the state title chase

When Banks softball coach Jenny Compton got on the bus following her team’s 4-3 loss to Henley in last year’s Class 4A state semifinals, she knew right away that her players would use the setback as motivation.

Denied a chance to play for their third consecutive state championship, the Braves used the long ride home from Klamath Falls not to lament the loss, but instead to plot how they would get back on top.

“Last year was great, but it made the girls hungry for more,” Compton said. “I knew that as soon as I got on the bus. Their demeanor, everything about them just said that they were going to come back even stronger next year.”

On paper at least, Banks should be considered a strong favorite to make a deep playoff push and possibly contend for another state title, which would pair nicely with the back-to-back championships the Braves won in 2012 and 2013, not to mention their runner-up finish from 2010 and last year’s semifinal appearance.

“I think they have some high expectations,” Compton said of this year’s team. “They know what they want to accomplish this year and they are very motivated. They’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

Compton has the benefit of returning nearly the entire starting lineup from last year’s squad. First baseman Molly Hammond graduated last spring, leaving one opening, and senior outfielder Jojo Wren broke her hand in the first game of this season, creating a second vacancy. But with so many returning varsity players, plus a stocked JV program, Compton said the transition has been smooth.

“There are a couple new faces — just a few, really — and everybody has been doing really well so far and working well together,” she said. “Considering that we were without six basketball players for the first two-and-a-half weeks of our season, I’d say that things are looking pretty good.

“Some of these girls have only had a couple of practices and our spring break games. So for having this group together for such a short period of time, things are going great.”

Banks fans will recognize a lot of familiar faces around the diamond this spring, starting with junior all-state shortstop and reigning Cowapa League co-player of the year MaKenna Partain, who batted a staggering .557 last season with 18 extra-base hits, as well as 39 RBIs and 46 runs scored.

Other returners around the infield include third baseman Kindel Bailey — who doubles as a thrower on the Banks track and field team — second baseman Mary Schorn and catcher Madison Soper. Sophomore Emma McCourt, who played JV last season, will take over for Hammond at first base.

Returning in the pitcher’s circle will be the lefty-righty combo of Hannah VanDomelen and Tiffany Snyder, who also split pitching duties last season. Compton said that VanDomelen, the lefty, threw about two-thirds of the Braves’ innings last year — including all three playoff games — and she expects that division of labor to work again this season.

When they aren’t pitching, VanDomelen and Snyder split time in the outfield along with fellow returner Madison Seed, now a senior. And with the injury to Wren, who started in the outfield last year, Compton has called upon promising freshman Keegan Wise to play a more substantial role.

Alyssa Rogers, a sophomore who played JV last season, will fill a utility role this spring, playing third base when Bailey is unavailable due to track meets or filling in at second base if Schorn is needed elsewhere.

As always, Compton said her team’s focus will be on each individual game rather than the season as a whole.

“We’ve got a very, very, very long season, so we’ve got to make sure we’re doing something to better ourselves every single day,” she said. “Wherever we wind up at the end of the season, we can still say we’ve done our best.”

One change Compton is implementing this spring is the way her players set their individual goals. Instead of setting goals for each game or the entire season, this year players will write down a goal on a piece of paper and strive to achieve it. Whether it takes one game or 30, only once the task has been accomplished can they write down a new goal.

“It’s always good to look at a new approach. It challenges you to think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it,” Compton said. “If you’re doing the same thing for a very long time, sometimes it can stop meaning as much to you or you forget whey you were doing it that way in the first place.

“This is a new process for us and we’re hoping to revitalize the goal-setting process. Sometimes you just need to look at things from a different perspective.”


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