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Madras White Buffalos softball team travels to Philomath for first round playoff game.

STEELE HAUGEN - Jiana Smith-Francis pitched during the Lady Buffs' 9-5 loss to 6A Bend High during a nonleague game. 
The Madras Lady Buffalo softball team clinched a playoff berth this season and decided to travel to Bend High for a nonleague tune-up game against the 6A Lava Bears (18-8 overall, 10-4 league play). They lost what was essentially a practice game 9-5.

Bend also made the postseason and played Barlow May 20, while the Lady Buffs (17-6 overall, 12-3 league play) have a playoff game against Philomath (19-8 overall, 15-3 league play) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at Philomath.

"I think they are going to be a tough team," head coach Shawna McConnell said. "We have heard they have a tough pitcher that throws pretty hard and some good line drive hitters. They will hit well if we leave the ball up. Defensively, we have heard they are pretty average and similar to teams we have already seen. The team is getting ready for some faster pitching in practice with speeding up the pitching machine and hitting against coach Donnie Bagley live."

"The team will work on some defensive stuff and see how we do," she said. "If we play our game, the way we can play and not wait to get going in the later innings, we can play in another playoff game Friday. This is just a lot of fun and whatever happens, happens. Every game is exciting and it is another game we get to play."

The Madras softball team played a tough North Bend High School last postseason and lost 2-1 in extra innings.

STEELE HAUGEN - Aspen Holcomb pitches against 6A Bend May 16. Madras and Bend both made the postseason this year and played each other May 16, to get ready for the playoffs.
"I think last year's postseason game is going to help quite a bit," McConnell said. "Almost every single one of them has felt that and they know the competition is going to be harder; it will be a more exciting game. There are no blowouts anymore. We really need to fight for every at-bat, fight for every base and nothing is going to be handed to them. Being senior heavy definitely has an advantage going into the postseason this year."

Madras decided not pitch go-to pitcher Lizzie Steuart during their tune-up game against the Lava Bears, resting her for the playoff game. Jiana Smith-Francis, Aspen Holcomb and Kathryce Danzuka all pitched for the Lady Buffs, allowing 10 hits and recording four strikeouts combined.

Bend scored the first run of the game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Madras was able to make contact on several pitches in the early innings of the game, but the Lava Bears were able to make some good defensive plays.

The Lava Bears scored a run in both the fourth and fifth innings, taking a 6-0 lead.

Madras finally hit the ball in the right places in the top of the fifth inning, scoring five runs, cutting Bend's lead down to 6-5.

The Lava Bears responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Buffs could not score in the seventh inning, losing to 6A Bend 9-5.

Madras recorded five hits as a team and was led by Smith-Francis, who went 1-for-4 with a two-RBI single. Steuart went 1-for-3 with an RBI double, while Danzuka ended the game 2-for-3 at the plate.

"This was a great tune-up nonleague game for us," McConnell said. "The team played well defensively; we hit well the first couple innings, but just hit into outs. Kathryce (Danzuka) started the contagious hitting streak in the sixth inning, but it was just a little too late."

"We didn't pitch Lizzie (Steuart) due to her arm being fatigued and saving her for the playoff game," she said. "We pitched almost all of our pitchers a couple innings each to get ready for any innings we might need against Philomath."

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