In their first game in nearly two years, the Tillamook High Lady Cheesemakers softball team opened their 2021 Cowapa League season April 13 on the road against the defending league (2019) champion Banks Braves. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season was canceled and the last Mooks softball game was in May of 2019.
Tillamook, guided by second-year coach Joy Richardson, faced a Banks squad that appears to be right where they left off two years ago. The more experienced Braves (five seniors) showed that they're undoubtedly the cream of the crop in the Cowapa League as they cruised to a 17-2 victory over a young, inexperienced Mooks squad (five freshmen, two sophomores) last Tuesday at Banks High School.
"We've played against Banks before, but it's been obviously two years since we last played them," said Richardson. "We knew coming into the game that they would be a tough opponent and it turned out to be a rough game for us in our season opener. I had higher hopes for us, but they (Banks) a good team with some fantastic hitters too and they put on a show."
Tillamook played Saturday at home versus the Astoria Fishermen and the Mooks were on the road Monday at Seaside (results unavailable because of Headlight Herald press deadline). Tillamook plays its next contest today (Wednesday, April 21) at home at 5 p.m. against the Valley Catholic Valiants, followed by a home game Friday versus Banks and an April 27 road game again versus Banks. The short 13-game spring season concludes May 15.
"Losing some upper classmen hurt our team a little, but we have two seniors and we have a really strong group of young players too," said Richardson. "I was happy with the fact we were able to make contact with the ball. Any reps are good reps. I'm proud of my pitcher (Torrin Richardson) because she located all of her pitches in the strike zone and she was throwing with good velocity of 55 miles per hour and she's been working pretty hard."
Banks jumped out to an early 6-0 first inning lead before Tillamook responded with a two-run second to trim the margin. Tillamook junior Emma Lommen's RBI single and Nessa Hurliman's two RBI double, narrowed the margin to 7-2 after two innings.
"Obviously, you want to come out with a win, but ultimately it's just a heartbreaker with the new Mercy Rule of 15 runs after three innings and we were hoping to play seven innings," said Richardson.
Torrin Richardson had a single and she had one strikeout in the pitching circle. Lommen, Hurliman and Richardson had the only hits for the Mooks, who had a total of just three hits. Hurliman and Daisy Valencia are the only seniors on the 13-player Tillamook roster.
Banks utilized an explosive offensive attack (14 total hits) and scored 10 runs in the third for a 17-2 lead.