Madras routs Sisters 13-4
Madras sophomore Jiana Smith-Francis favors coming onto the pitcher's circle for relief support rather than starting. But on certain days, to give fellow pitcher Lizzie Steuart a rest, Smith-Francis begins the game, and if her outing is going well, she might end it, too.
"I usually like closing out games because Lizzie usually gets it started, so then it's easier if I can finish," Smith-Francis said. "I don't really like starting it up, because after a while, I feel like I'll get slower and slower."
That certainly wasn't the case in a 14-3 home win over Sisters March 20. Smith-Francis, who pitched a complete, four-inning game, was solid, throwing seven strikeouts and allowing only five hits to 22 batters she faced. Equally important was the defense backing her, as well as the batting, which piled up eight runs in the first inning and ended the game in five innings due to the 10-run rule.
The White Buffalos put on display a well-rounded effort for their first win of the season and weren't discouraged after a pair of close road losses to Bend and Mountain View the week prior.
"(We kept) doing what we've been doing," Madras head coach Shawna McConnell said. "In all honesty, we should've probably beat at least Bend. So it's always nice to come back and get a win that is a confidence booster against a team you know you can outperform. But they made the most of it."
"It feels good, but I'm pretty sure if we were to play the other teams again, we would give it more, so we would be closer to winning," junior Niyallee Cochran said.
Though the Lady Buffs held a significant lead at the end of the first inning, the Outlaws got on the board first. A lead-off double and ground out at first led to a close call at third base, where Madras junior Genesis Quiroz appeared to have tagged the baserunner, but she was called safe.
The following Sisters batter hit an RBI single, giving the Outlaws an early 1-0 lead. Madras prevented Sisters from much else. Junior Mary Olney caught a fly ball in left field for the second out, and a ground out ended the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Madras batted through the order and then some. Olney and Quiroz both got on base with singles, and a couple wild pitches advanced runners, eventually scoring Olney to even the score 1-1.
After Steuart was walked, senior Arysta Pineda stepped to the plate hit and smacked an RBI double that allowed Quiroz to score and put the Buffs on top 2-1, a lead that they wouldn't relinquish for the remainder of the game.
In the process, Steuart sneaked over to third, and scored another Sisters pitch that got behind the catcher. After Smith-Francis was walked, the Outlaws decided to make a pitching change.
Freshman Delaney Vibbert grounded out on the next at-bat, but also registered an RBI. Cochran then followed with a 2-RBI single, pushing the Madras lead to 6-1.
The Buffs scored their final two runs of the inning when Steuart, with the bases loaded, chipped in a 2-RBI single to score Cochran and freshman Hannah Holliday.
That seven-run advantage gave Smith-Francis a nice cushion to work with, and she promptly struck out the first Sisters batter in the second inning on three straight strikes.
After a Sisters single, Smith-Francis struck out a second batter, and a third slapped a hit right at Smith-Francis, who was able to make a back-handed catch for the third out. Smith-Francis is still dealing with an ankle injury she suffered during basketball season. She requires a pinch runner when she gets on base, and has limited mobility on the pitcher's circle.
"Especially if other pitchers dig holes where I stand, that affects my ankle, because it starts to ache," Smith-Francis said. "After our Mountain View game and Bend game, my ankle got really huge. That still affects it."
The defense also played a key part in holding Sisters to three runs, with only two errors for the game. There were a lot of areas for the Madras coaches to be pleased with.
"I think they're solid all the way around," McConnell said. "But I think it's just, again, inexperience in certain situations that kind of come up that we might not have seen before.
"They really are a well-rounded group. They're good teammates to each other, they're positive, they want to learn. They are a fun group of group of girls, and it's refreshing."
Madras capitalized on a couple Sisters errors in the bottom of the second inning, particularly when an overthrown ball to first base allowed Cochran and junior Jalaney Suppah to score. Another Steuart RBI scored Olney, and when Smith-Francis was walked with the bases loaded, Quiroz scored from third.
With a 12-1 lead, Madras scored one run apiece in the third and fourth innings.
Editor's note: The Outlaws' roster wasn't made available on the OSAA website.