Yamhill-Carlton beats Banks twice to seize control of first place

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks junior lefthander Hannah VanDomelen delivers a pitch during last Friday's Cowapa League softball doubleheader against Yamhill-Carlton.
YAMHILL — High stakes. Twists and turns. Comebacks. Late-game drama.

All that you could want and more happened during last Friday’s No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown in Banks’ softball doubleheader at Yamhill-Carlton.

In the end, the Braves were the team to wind up with more — more than they wanted — losing two games in unusual fashion to plummet from undefeated status.

With the Cowapa League softball title likely on the line, Yamhill-Carlton (14-1, 8-1) scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 3-2 win in the first game, and then the Tigers put across the game-winning tally on a bizarre Banks throwing error midway through the second game in a 7-5 victory.

In some ways, the contests meant so much, as was evident in Y-C’s jubilant celebrations after each game.

In some ways, they meant little. The teams, already practically sure things for the Class 4A state playoffs, merely switched places in the OSAA power rankings, which means they remain on a potential collision course deep in the postseason.

And in some ways, though they did not produce the desired nor customary outcomes for the Braves (14-2, 7-2), the games could mean everything in the end.

“It only makes us better. We’re going to learn from it, realize what we have to do to win next time,” said MaKenna Partain, who was rock-solid in both outings for Banks. “If we would have won, it probably wouldn’t have helped as much as these losses.”

The strange losses, especially, seem to have a way of doing that.

The first game seemed to belong to Banks until it suddenly didn’t. Partain reached base in the top of the first when she was hit by Tigers ace Molly Smith, and then Madison Soper brought her home on a single to draw first blood.

Yamhill-Carlton answered in the bottom half of the inning on a gutsy call for DeLaney Ogden to steal home with two outs.

Neither team would forge ahead until the fifth, when Hannah VanDomelen — who pitched all but four innings Friday — legged out an infield single and then Partain belted a triple in the next at-bat for the RBI and the lead.

Then the unexpected that does seem to crop up at the oddest times in softball started.

In the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Tiffany Snyder — who took over in that inning for Banks — delivered a pitch to Morgan Jarvis that popped into and then out of Soper’s catcher’s mitt, and then rolled away toward the backstop. That sequence gave Emily Drevdahl, whom Snyder had walked to lead off the inning, enough time to tie up the game and give the Tigers life.

They finally capitalized on it three innings later, when pinch hitter Elayna Apuya led off with a single to center. Five batters and two outs later, she proved to be the winning run, scoring on a wild pitch that Soper did her best to flip back to the plate in time, but the play was too late, and the undefeated season was NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks softball coach Jenny Compton discusses strategy with junior JoJo Wren.

“I think it makes us realize that we need to play our best game every single game regardless of who we’re playing, and that’s a challenge,” VanDomelen said after both games, about the entire experience.

“Staying up against all teams is always going to be a challenge. Playing a tough game all seven innings and being mentally tough is hard, and that’s something we really need to work on and focus on throughout the rest of the season.”

With plenty still at stake for both squads, the second game was a bit more loose, with several errors contributing to the final score. Y-C jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning before Banks knotted things up in the second on Mary Schorn’s two-RBI single that scored Madison Seed and Molly Hammond.

Both teams added a run in the third before a wild fourth, when an error at shortstop on a knock by Partain scored JoJo Wren and Schorn.

But as they seemingly had all day, the Tigers had the answer this time, too.

Yamhill-Carlton tied the game on Drevdahl’s two-RBI triple that snuck past Seed in right field. Then, after Seed sent the ball to Schorn, the Braves’ second baseman threw the ball back in the direction of the circle and home plate. But the ball came off her hand at a crazy angle and rolled toward first base, and Drevdahl alertly capitalized for the score and the lead.

After that, the Braves put up only one more hit against Smith, a hard-throwing pitcher who has signed with Memphis, and the Tigers tacked on one more run in sixth for the final score.

For Smith, the two victories against the Cowapa League’s five-time defending champions were the fulfillment of a team goal “since my freshman year and for as long as I can remember just watching the high school play.”

On the other side, it left the Braves with a little work to do — perhaps not what they wanted but maybe exactly what they needed heading into a run at a third consecutive state championship.

“This is a really good learning experience for us, because it teaches us that winning isn’t everything,” VanDomelen said. “We learned so many things from this game, and we’re going to take so many things from it.

“It’s going to make us better in the end, and I think that’s a really good thing.”

Banks returns home on Friday for a 4 p.m. doubleheader against Astoria.

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