SOFTBALL: Banks girls post a one-run victory over Valley Catholic in their first game of the 2007 season
by: Zack Palmer, Banks softball coach Emily Kent (right) congratulates pitcher Cat Schorn after the final pitch of Banks’ 3-2 win.

The Banks Lady Braves started off the 2007 softball season with a bang, beating the Valiants of Valley Catholic in their season opener last Wednesday, then sweeping a doubleheader against Estacada on Saturday.

Banks (3-1) scored three runs on four hits in the first inning of Wednesday's game to jump out to a 3-0 lead. The Lady Braves then held off a Valley Catholic rally in the late innings to win their season opener, 3-2.

'Valley is a very tough team,' said Banks head coach Emily Kent. 'They usually put up 10 or more runs, so this is very exciting.'

Kelsy Vanderzanden, Amber Marston and Alexa Heilbrun delivered the early firepower against Valley Catholic, and would prove to be Banks' heavy hitters throughout the team's opening week. Kent was also thrilled with the performance of her starting pitcher, senior Cat Schorn.

'It was her first time throwing seven innings and she was impressive,' said the second-year coach.

Schorn held Valley Catholic to just two runs while striking out six batters and walking one.

With only one day to 'work out the kinks,' Kent rallied her team for its first road game of the season against North Marion on Friday. Unfortunately, difficulty in the outfield and overall inconsistency led to unearned runs for the Huskies, who pulled out a 5-2 victory.

Schorn was on the hill once again, but her 120-pitch outing went for naught.

Banks bounced back over the weekend, taking both games of a doubleheader from visiting Estacada. The Lady Braves posted a 4-1 victory in Game 1, then held off a late charge to nip Estacada 9-8 in Game 2.

Banks got off to a roll early in Game 1, getting a run in the first on Heilbrun's double to right-center, then adding two more in the second on Estacada throwing errors. The Lady Braves added one more run in the bottom of the sixth on Marston's third hit of the game - the junior finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

Estacada got a leadoff inside-the-park home run from Krista Beck in the top of the seventh, then put runners on second and third with only one out. Schorn rallied and slammed the door with two straight strikeouts, preserving the win for Banks.

The second game was not as cut and dry, with the teams going back and forth before Banks was finally able to take control with a four-run sixth inning.

Estacada led 7-5 through the top of the sixth, but Schorn jump-started a rally in the bottom of the frame with a single. After a walk to Madison Farley, Heilbrun tied things up with her second hit of the game, a two-run single. Banks regained the lead on an RBI single by Marston, and Katie Brower followed with a run-scoring triple that put the Braves ahead 9-7.

The visiting Rangers would pull within one in the top of the seventh, but Schorn - who came on in the fourth inning in relief of starting pitcher Janna Lee - struck out two of the last three batters of the game to lock up another Banks victory.

Banks' scheduled trip to Corbett on Monday was rained out, but the Lady Braves will return to action today at home against Vernonia.

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