Lady Buffs start strong, but fall to Philomath in playoff game
Madras White Buffalo softball collided with a strong Philomath squad May 22, and lost 9-2 in the opening round of the state 4A softball playoffs.
The seventh-ranked Warriors hosted the game against the Buffs, which came in ranked 11th after finishing second in the Tri-Valley League.
The Lady Buffs were able to take an early 1-0 lead and a few innings later, took a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, however, a walk and two singles loaded the bases for the Warriors. A mix between a few walks, Madras errors and good hits by the Warriors gave Philomath a big lead that the Lady Buffs couldn't come back from.
"We started really strong," head softball coach Shawna McConnell said. "We really did battle that whole game and that score doesn't really justify what really happened in that game. The team was hitting the pitcher, but we were just hitting to people. We just couldn't string along a series of hits like we usually do."
"They did the same," she said. "Philomath chipped away and had just one big inning. Things kind of just got away from us after that. Nobody quit or lost that competitive drive. The team fought and battled the entire way.
"We had a couple of errors and the wind was blowing pretty hard, which messed with our outfielders a bit," said McConnell. "The team struggled in the outfield defensively, and we didn't make adjustments. It is just one of those things where we fell a little short against a great-hitting team and just couldn't put anything together offensively."
Lizzie Steuart, Marilyn Tom and Aspen Holcomb all went 1-for-3 at the plate. Hannah Holliday was 1-for-2 batting and Mary Olney was able to go 1-for-4. Niyallee Cochran and Jiana Smith-Francis had an RBI apiece.
Madras had a great season with a 17-7 overall record, 12-3 in league play. This was the second postseason year in a row for these athletes.
"It's a testament to the group when you are really disappointed the season is over and not just because we lost, but the fact it won't be the same next year," McConnell said. "We were just excited to play another game; it's exciting to be in the postseason. It is a good reward for all your hard work you put in during the regular season. This group of girls is amazing and they had great group chemistry.
"They just had a good time together on and off the field," she said. "We didn't have any drama and had kids that just cared about each other and the program. This is probably one of my favorite teams I have ever coached during my 18 years of teaching and coaching. We could have lost every game this season and that group of girls would have been the exact same as far as heart and effort. A phenomenal season really."
They Lady Buffs will have Smith-Francis, Holcomb and Jonissa Scott all returning for their senior seasons next year, as well as Holliday and Delaney Vibbert returning for their junior seasons.
Freshman Tom had a fantastic season at the varsity level and will look to continue another great season in the future. The Madras JV squad only lost a few games and the younger Buffalos will likely be ready for the move to varsity.
"Next year will be a good group of core girls coming back," said McConnell. "There will be a lot of great varsity returners. With those juniors, they should be great leaders for us next year, along with Hannah (Holliday) and Delaney (Vibbert). I still can't get over the amazing year Marilyn (Tom) had for us. For a rookie, she did an amazing job and I think she had the second best batting average on the team."