Another great season for the Braves yields a slew of all-league and all-state awards

On the heels of another standout season, the Banks softball team is racking up the honors once again.

The Braves wrapped up their season last week with yet another deep playoff run, and the rest of the state has once again taken notice of the team’s talent. A total of seven players were named to the Cowapa League all-star team, and five of those players also earned Class 4A all-state honors.

MaKenna Partain, Mary Schorn, Madison Seed, Madison Soper and Hannah VanDomelen were all named to the league all-star team proper, while Molly Hammond and Kindel Bailey were honorable mention selections. Additionally, Partain repeated as league player of the year, sharing the honor this season with Yamhill-Carlton infielder Emily Drevdahl.

Five of those Braves also landed spots on the all-state squad announced this week. VanDomelen and Partain were first team picks, Schorn and Soper earned second team honors, and Seed was an honorable mention selection.

“It is a great honor that these kids are being recognized, because there are a lot of really phenomenal players throughout the state,” Banks coach Jenny Compton said. “So for these coaches to recognize these kids is also just really fantastic and really humbling.”

Still just a sophomore, Partain continued to build upon an already sparkling resume this season. The star shortstop hit an eye-popping .557 through 23 games as the third batter in the Braves’ lineup. She also racked up 44 hits — including 18 for extra bases — during that time, as well as 39 RBIs, 46 runs scored and 13 walks. She also went 5-for-10 during Banks’ three state playoff contests.

But Partain was not one-dimensional. She also got it done on the defensive side of the ball and was involved in at least nine or 10 double plays, Compton noted.

“There’d be balls hit in the hole between third base and shortstop, and she’d get over there and she’d get the ball and then be able to come up with the throw all the way across the field, which is pretty amazing,” Compton said.

As for VanDomelen, she drew the distinction of earning all-league and all-state honors while splitting time at two positions. As a pitcher, the junior lefthander added some speed this season, Compton said, and while she did not ring up strikeouts, she induced plenty of outs with her rotation, movement and ability to keep batters off-balance. She also anchored the outfield — which is where she picked up her all-state nod — when she wasn’t in the circle.

Batting between Schorn and Partain in the lineup, she also hit .422 and recorded 35 hits, 21 RBIs and 43 runs.

“She really commands the outfield. She’s very vocal,” Compton said. “She’s a really great leader in the outfield. The other thing, too, is it’s not just driven by their defensive abilities but it’s also by their offensive abilities, and so she was a great hitter for us offensively as well.”

Soper was impressive as the team’s cleanup hitter, posting a .416 batting average to go along with 32 hits, 41 RBIs and 24 runs. She also provided vision behind the plate and used her arm to pick up outs for her team on multiple occasions.

“I thought she did a phenomenal job,” Compton said. “Behind the plate, she just had a really strong presence. I just feel like she had a really calm presence. That’s a really good thing to have. She called the pitches ... so she just really knows the game well. She’s a really good observer.”

As the team’s leadoff hitter and second baseman, Schorn was impressive on both sides of the ball in her freshman season. Thanks to a .506 batting average, she constantly prowled the base paths for the Braves, posting 45 hits, 21 RBIs and 41 runs. Impressively, she struck out just once in 23 games.

“She’s very talented. She’s the kind of player that really could play anywhere in the field, because she just has a really good overall sense of what every position requires,” Compton said. “And she also has the natural ability to fall in line with that.”

Seed’s performance was especially impressive in context. She tore the ACL in one of her knees early last spring and missed the rest of her sophomore year. After surgery and then rehab that stretched into the winter, the junior outfielder made rapid progress over the course of this season.

“It was actually really neat to see that morph through the early season,” Compton recalled. “And when she finally got rid of that knee brace, she really started trusting in that knee. You could see when she started going really full speed after balls in the outfield, and she’d start going full speed running the base paths.”

Seed batted .282, notching 22 hits, 25 RBIs and 14 runs. She could have scored even more but was left on base 25 times. She also went 5-for-11 in three playoff games and hit a walkoff single in the Lady Braves’ 5-4 quarterfinal victory against Mazama.

As for Bailey, she has continued to balance the demands of participating simultaneously in softball and track and field. An all-state javelin thrower, she turned into the softball team’s regular starting third baseman this year, lending her athleticism to the Banks infield.

“I’m just excited for her that she had such a great year in both (sports) this year,” Compton said.

As for Hammond, she played an important role not only as the Braves’ first baseman but also as the team’s only senior, taking a leadership position and serving as a communicator.

“She had a great year at first base. She really did,” Compton said. “She stopped a lot of balls. Her middle infielders I know were not timid to just launch one at her.

“There were times when she would be there to pick up a throw that was in the dirt from one of the infielders, and I know that they were grateful that she was able to do that.”

After winning state championships in 2012 and 2013, Banks broke in a lot of new pieces this season but took it in stride, running up an impressive 23-4 record and spending the entire season holding down one of the top two spots in the OSAA power rankings.

The Braves’ state semifinal appearance was their fourth in five seasons.

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