Midway through a Class 4A Cowapa League softball game, the Tillamook High Lady Cheesemakers were in excellent position to perhaps get an upset victory against the undefeated Banks Braves.
Tillamook (1-5 league, 1-5 overall) trailed just 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning and had a chance to tie the game after junior pitcher Torrin Richardson (2-for-3, two singles) hit a single and then reached second base on a passed ball to get into scoring position. Unfortunately, Tillamook was unable to get a key hit to drive home a much needed run.
Banks, the defending (2019) Cowapa League champion, utilized its potent offense (11.14 runs per game average) and scored three runs in the bottom half of the frame for a 4-0 lead after four innings. The Braves (6-0 league, 7-0 overall) remained in control of the momentum and later added two more runs on their way to a 6-0 win April 27 at Banks High School.
The Cheesemakers, guided by second-year coach Joy Richardson, will be seeking to get a win today (May 5) when they face the Astoria Fishermen (3-3, 3-5) in a 4:30 p.m. home game at Tillamook High School. Astoria won 3-2 over Tillamook in the last matchup between the two squads April 17 in Tillamook.
"We knew the beginning of our schedule was going to be a little rough, especially since three of our first six games were against Banks, but I'm proud of the girls," said Richardson. "We've been within one in our other games. We had a different strategy today and we had Tori Pesterfield starting in the pitching circle instead of Torrin, who is usually our starting pitcher. Tori is more of an off-speed pitcher, she did a good job and I think she helped limit the number of hits (eight) that Banks had. I'm just super proud of our girls for playing so well today and we only had two errors today, compared to eight we had in the first game we played against Banks (a 17-2 loss April 13)."
Following a scoreless first inning, Tillamook had an excellent scoring opportunity in the second inning. The Mooks loaded the bases on a single by senior Daisy Valencia (1-for-3), a walk by junior Lynsey Werner (1-for-2) and a Richardson single. The Mooks again just couldn't get a clutch hit to drive home a run though and it remained a scoreless contest after two innings.
In the third, the Mooks again had a good chance to put a run up on the scoreboard. Freshman catcher Kylie Burden (2-for-3, two singles) hit a leadoff single and then senior Nessa Hurliman reached base after she was hit by a pitch. With two baserunners and no outs, it definitely seemed like the Mooks would score a run. However, the Braves defense rose to the challenge though and they were able to stop what appeared to be a possible Tillamook scoring rally.
"We've had a couple of games now with Banks and I think we were really focused well in this one, we played with a high energy level and we felt like we had a good chance to win," said Hurliman, who hit her first ever home run in an April 23 home game versus Banks, which the Braves won 13-8. "It was so awesome to hit a three-run homer at home against Banks and I just loved it, because it made me feel so good. It was so amazing because lots of my family members came to watch the game."
Tillamook had some momentum in the fifth when Burden again hit a leadoff single on a fly to center field. Again, the Braves defense held the Mooks from scoring and Banks got two more runs for a 6-0 advantage.
"We felt like we had a lot of momentum at the beginning and we just came out and played really hard the entire game," said Burden. "Our pitchers both threw really good and we had some good scoring chances throughout the game. I had lots of fun, it was a really good game and we came out here and gave it our best shot and we were ready play."
Tillamook had baserunners in the sixth and seventh innings as Werner and Hurliman both hit singles, but the solid Braves defense prevented the Mooks from scoring as Banks recorded its second shutout this season.
Pesterfield, a sophomore, pitched the first four innings and Richardson followed her in the pitching circle and pitched the last three innnings. Banks outhit Tillamook by just one, 8-7.
"I think the girls are really thriving and they're just so very happy to be out here playing softball," said coach Richardson.
The Cheesemakers played Astoria May 3, (results unavailable because of Headlight Herald press deadline) and they have five games remaining on the abbreviated spring schedule. Following Wednesday's contest, Tillamook plays a 4:30 p.m. home game Friday versus the Seaside Seagulls (4-2 league, 4-3 overall), followed by a 4:30 matchup May 11 at Seaside. The season concludes with a May 13 road game against the Valley Catholic Valiants (0-4, 0-6) and a May 15 finale at home versus the Valiants.