Girls beat rival to earn away play-in game
The White Buffalo softball team beat the Crook County Cowgirls 19-16 in Thursday's senior night game. The team earned an away play-in game, against No. 11-ranked North Ben on Thursday.
The last regular season game of the season had everything you could ask for. It had lots of scoring, diving catches, grand slams, back-and-forth action, and a dramatic finish.
Aspen Holcomb, Jiana Smith-Francis and Lizzie Steuart all pitched for the Buffs. They combined for six strikeouts in seven innings.
The Buffalos took a 6-1 lead after the first inning, but the Cowgirls answered quickly, taking a 7-6 lead in the top of the second inning.
Smith-Francis, of Madras, hit a monster shot to deep left field, putting runners in scoring position. Niyallee Cochran hit an RBI ground ball up the middle and Cheydon Herkshan hit two runs home with another hit up the middle, making the score 9-7 after two innings.
The Buffalos and the Cowgirls were held scoreless in the third and fourth innings, but scored a combined 11 runs in the fifth.
Kalyn Martinez hit a two-RBI grounder for Crook County to tie the game and Jillian Denney hit a grounder up the middle, giving them a 10-9 lead.
Steuart hit a double to get things started for the Buffs and was soon hit home by a Smith-Francis hit to right field. Cochran hit the ball to the fence with a line drive to left field, scoring another Buffalo runner. Jalaney Suppah stepped to the plate, hitting an RBI line drive to center field and another run was scored from a Crook County error.
Mary Olney and Arysta Pineda both hit runs home for Madras. Olney hit a ground ball to third and Pineda, a fly out to right field. Steuart hit a two-RBI double to right field, scoring the Buffalos' eighth run of the inning, for a 17-10 lead at the end of the fifth inning.
Crook County countered with one run in the sixth inning; Martinez hit another RBI, that time to right field.
Herkshan and Olney both hit runs home for the Buffs, taking a 19-11 lead at the end of the sixth inning.
The Cowgirls were brought to life when Madison Faust hit a grand slam to center field, scoring four Crook County runs. Justine Brinkley stepped up to bat with all the momentum in the Cowgirls' direction. She hit a hard ground ball between first and second to score another run.
The Buffalos managed to stop the Crook County comeback, winning their last home game 19-16.
Olney finished the game going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a double. Steuart was one of three players that was perfect at the plate, hitting 2-for-2 with two doubles and two RBIs. Smith-Francis and Cochran both went an incredible 5-for-5; Smith-Francis had two doubles and three RBIs and Cochran, two doubles, a triple and three RBIs.
Suppah continued the Buffs' great hitting game by going 4-for-5 with two RBI singles and Herkshan contributed with two RBI singles. Arysta Pineda, Genesis Quiroz and Delaney Vibbert all recorded one hit.
"This was a fun game," said coach Shawna McConnell. "We have not always played our best game against Crook County and it has always kind of bothered us. This is a fun rivalry we have with them and the girls were bummed when we lost our first two games when we faced them, because they knew we didn't battle and we quit on ourselves."
"They had it in their heads today that we were going to battle; win or lose, they were going to battle until the end," McConnell said. "Everyone did their part, they were intense, good body language, they fought even though it was going back and forth. It was a great way to end the regular season."
"We need to attack next week like it is just another game," she said, referring to the first postseason game. "We will prepare, work with our pitchers, (work on) some strategy and work hard to hit the ball like we did today."
"With three returning lettermen and no other varsity players with experience, this was a brand new team and I am so proud of the way they showed they are competitors, even though we did not have very much experience at this level," she said. "We did not know what to expect, but I can tell you this is a really fun group; I have not had this much fun in a long time."
"That was a great way to end the regular season," lone senior Pineda said. "It is great to be playing with all these new girls and I learned a lot of new things. Making it to the postseason is a great feeling; we almost made it last year, but it is going to be great bonding with this team for these last couple weeks."
The softball team also played in Corbett, May 8. The girls lost 6-3, thanks to a big third inning for the Cardinals.
Madras struck first, taking a 1-0 lead after two innings. Corbett scored four runs of their own in the bottom of the third inning, taking a 4-1 lead.
The White Buffalos fought back with two more runs in the fourth inning, narrowing the lead down to 4-3, but the Cardinals closed out the game, scoring two runs in the sixth inning, giving them a 6-3 victory.
Smith-Francis and Steuart combined struck out four batters in seven innings. Smith-Francis hit 2-for-3 with two doubles and Quiroz went 2-for-3 with a triple. Cochran also went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Pineda recorded a hit.
"We played well, but just did not have any timely hits," said McConnell. "The team did not have any intensity or fire in them. We played pretty well defensively, only one error was costly. The team was just outhit today."