Banks' perfect season comes at Tillamook's expense
It's never really easy, but the Banks Braves again made it look that way en route to a blowout win over Tillamook.
The Braves scored one run in the second inning, seven in the third, then cruised to a 9-1 win on Senior Night this past Wednesday, May 8, at Banks High School.
Banks (12-0, 18-5) was led by Hannah McCourt, Kaylin Hernandez and Abby Campbell who combined to go 6-for 11 with six RBIs and four runs scored. McCourt — one of six seniors on the roster including Hernandez, Allison VanLoo, Haelee Saunders, Madison Graham, and Becky Bergquam — homered in the 7-run second inning en route to what would amount to a perfect 12-0 Cowapa League championship season. It was the third league title for the class of 2019, and the first for first-year Banks head coach Rosie Contri who was extremely appreciative of the ease with which the seniors welcomed her in.
"I couldn't have asked for a better group of seniors," Contri said. "They have embraced me as their leader and in turn I have worked hard to make it a season they will not forget. They have stepped up when need be, and they have offered so much guidance to those that will follow. Each senior's softball journey has been different, but to have them all merge together for one last season is a blessing and privilege to be around."
After a quiet first inning, the Braves got things going in the second when Graham reached on an error, advanced to second on a ground out, then scored on consecutive passed balls to put Banks ahead 1-0.
Braves pitcher, Hernandez, again put the Cheesemakers down without a hiccup in the third, setting up the game-breaking Banks half-inning, starting with back-to-back Tillamook errors. With runners on first and second, Campbell doubled to left field, scoring VanLoo and Saunders. McCourt's 2-run homer made it 5-0, then Graham singled, junior Noel Herb walked, Hernandez doubled, and when Bergquam successfully bunted her way on, the Braves led 8-0 and the rout was on.
Tillamook got their only run in the sixth when Natilee Dentel scored on a Daisy Valencia sacrifice fly to centerfield, but Banks answered with the game's final run a half-inning later when Campbell scored on a McCourt single to left.
Contri said after the game that she was pleased with her team's effort in the wake of all the Senior Night hoopla, but was quick to note that the season is far from over and in fact, they have their most important games still in front of them.
"Despite the obvious distractions, I felt we did a great job on focusing on the task at hand," the coach said. "Regardless of what we have done, we are working on what is ahead. Each game provides us with that next step of being able to finish strong."
Hernandez threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out five and walking one.
Banks junior Lilli Davis closed the game, pitching the final two innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks.
The Braves will finish the regular season with nonleague games versus Canby Tuesday, May 14, and at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17, at Hood River Valley.
Playoff first round games are scheduled for Wednesday, May 22. Banks' opponent has yet to be determined.
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