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Banks softball takes two from Valley Catholic

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The No. 3-ranked Braves sweep a doubleheader over a struggling Valiant team that made it interesting in game-one

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks senior pitcher Emma McCourt throws a pitch during the Braves' game against Valley Catholic May 5 at Banks High School.It may not have been pretty, but it was effective.

The No. 3-ranked Banks softball team took care of business versus last place Valley Catholic Friday, May 5 at Banks High School. The Braves swept a doubleheader, handling a pesky Valiants club in a 9-5 game-one victory, and making quick work of them in the second, winning in five innings by a score of 14-1.

The Braves built an early 3-0 lead in game-one, only to watch Valley surprisingly pull within 3-2, then push three more across in the seventh to surprise even the Valiant faithful on hand. Like much of the season to this point, Banks almost seemed bored as they plodded through the first half of the game, allowing the one-win Valiants to hang around before grinding the game open in the fifth inning with six workmanlike runs.

The home Braves started in the first when junior Keegan Wise led-off with a single then immediately stole second. Then after a Mackenzie Davis ground out, senior infielder Mary Schorn bunted her way aboard and Banks perfectly executed a double-steal which resulted in an errant throw and the Braves first run. Shakayla Snyder then reached on a second Valley error which allowed Schorn to score and Banks had a 2-0 lead.

Banks added a third run in the second when following a Alyssa Rogers double to start the inning, senior Karlie Gerlinger drove her in with a single to left. Gerlinger was later thrown out trying to steal second, but the Braves had a 3-0 lead and the rout appeared to be on.

But Valley didn't quit. After two quick outs to start the top half of the third, junior shortstop Noelle Mannen hit a bloop single down the first base line, then freshman Kate Desmond hit a deep double off of Banks' starting pitcher Emma McCourt to the wall in left field, plating Mannen and giving Valley their first run. A pitch later, junior Natalie Alvis singled to center and in a blink of an eye it was a 3-2 game.

TNEWS-TIMES PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks senior Alyssa Rogers takes a swing during the Braves' game against Valley Catholic May 5 at Banks High School.he score would remain the same until the bottom half of the fifth when Banks opened it up. The Braves used a series of bunts, coupled with relentless pressure on the base paths to force the Valiants into a string of errors from which they were ultimately buried beneath.

Gerlinger bunted her way on to start, then a Wise single to left followed by a Davis bunt and error made it 4-2 Braves. Schorn then bunted for a hit, and back-to-back sacrifice attempts by Snyder and Hannah McCourt led to two more Valley errors and the floodgates were open. Ragsdale singled, then Emma McCourt put the proverbial cherry atop the Banks inning with a mammoth two-run homer to left field to make it 9-2.

Again Valley rallied though, turning three hits into three Valiant runs to make it interesting before McCourt got senior Katheren Bettermann to ground out to end the game.

The loss was the eighth straight for Valley, and Banks would make it nine in a row after their game-two blowout in the nightcap.

With the wins, Banks improved to 19-1 overall and 11-1 in the Cowapa League. The Braves are scheduled to host Scappoose, the only team to have beaten them this season, Tuesday, May 9 at 5pm before finishing up their league schedule with two games at Astoria May 12.