The Madras softball season ended over the weekend in Coos Bay, but you won't catch Shawna McConnell frowning about the team's fate.
The Lady Buffs fell 7-4 in their postseason play-in game against Marshfield on Saturday, May 21, sending the Pirates onto the first round of the state championships and sending Madras back home for the summer. While the White Buffalos were unable to pull out a win on the road, the team's head coach could not be happier with how they went out.
"Absolutely had a great game," McConnell said after the game. "Battled the Lady Pirates all the way. The grit and intensity that we showed was awesome. If you have to end a season, this is the way to do it."
The Buffs got off to a hot start, scoring three runs in the first inning thanks to an RBI single from junior starting pitcher Hope King — who had yet to enter the circle before giving herself some help — and a two-RBI base knock from sophomore outfielder Lily Moses. Marshfield answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first, with Pirate pitcher Tatum Montiel one-upping her Madras counterpart by smacking a two-run double into center field.
The teams then traded scoreless second innings before Marshfield tacked on runs in the third and fourth innings to take 4-3 lead. The tying run scored on an error, while the go-ahead run came from Paige Reigard's two-out RBI triple. The Pirates put themselves further in front with three RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth, taking their largest lead of the day at 7-3.
Despite the one costly gaffe, McConnell noted that the Buffs played a mostly perfect game on defense.
"Had some big outs from Hailey Cochran in (center field)," said the coach, "and our (infield) was flawless."
Madras got a small two-out rally going in the bottom of the seventh after senior catcher Marilyn Tom made it to third base on a Marshfield error. Junior shortstop Natalie Lockey singled Tom around to score, but a fly ball to left field from sophomore third baseman Valerie Alonso was corralled by the Pirates to end the game.
"So great to see our girls really go after the win," McConnell added of her team's valiant final push. "We just came up a little short. Really great battle. I couldn't be more proud of their attitudes, class and effort during this play-in game."
It was not just McConnell who was singing the praises of the Madras softballers after the game, either.
"We were complimented by the longtime Pirate radio announcer (for) being a class act," she noted. "Probably the best compliment we could get as coaches. Love this team."
Madras finishes the season with a record of 13-12 as it says goodbye to six departing seniors. In addition to Tom and Cochran, fellow seniors Toya Perez, Lilly Libokmeto, Simyan David and Ty Dixon all helped keep the Madras softball brand strong this year. The future of the team also looks bright with a veteran-heavy roster coming back next spring.
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