Junction City junior Lily Buendia is hitting .677 with 11 home runs and 61 RBIs this season. (Photo by Beau Dussell)
Junction City junior Lily Buendia is hitting .677 with 11 home runs and 61 RBIs this season. (Photo by Beau Dussell)

Teams that allow baserunners before facing Junction City's Lily Buendia are doing so at their own peril this season.

The junior catcher is driving in runs in bunches, recording 61 RBIs through 20 games for the 4A Tigers (12-8). With four regular-season games remaining, she is threatening the RBI state record of 74, set by Marist Catholic's Abby Doerr in 2019.

“I can't imagine she won't blow it up,” Junction City coach Mike Campbell said of Buendia, who is hitting .677 with 11 home runs.

The 5-foot-6 Buendia, a member of the Northwest Bullets club program since age 12, has refined her swing with year-round practice. She has shown improvement over her sophomore season, when she hit .557 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs.

“Her swing is pretty much flawless,” Campbell said. “She can pretty much handle any pitcher, any speed, and make the adjustment, where a lot of the regular high school kids can't. She just has pure mechanics that makes the adjustments simple.”

Buendia trains under Tigers assistant Jennifer Campbell, the coach's daughter who played at Junction City and is on the Northwest Bullets staff. Buendia's dedication to the game is paying dividends.

“They get done with a two-hour practice, and they'll go in a cage for 45 minutes and work on a tee,” Mike Campbell said. “She wants to go on and play in college. She's got schools looking at her. She'll play college ball somewhere, for sure.”

Buendia had nine RBIs in a game against Hidden Valley on March 20. She has tape-measure power, launching high drives, including one home run that went about 80 feet past the fence at Junction City.

Mike Campbell said Buendia's power is similar to former Marist Catholic standout Ariel Carlson, the state's career home run leader (72) and now a senior on the team at Oregon.

“Lily hits with that kind of power,” he said. “She's doesn't have that physique – she's a little bit smaller – but her mechanics are really, really good. She's not going to put it out every time, but she's going to hit it hard. Her bat speed is incredible. She can mash the ball.”

In Friday's 8-7 win over Marshfield, the Pirates opted to pitch to Buendia with a base open and paid the price. Buendia jumped on the first pitch for a three-run homer that started a comeback from a four-run deficit.

Pitchers can't afford to make a mistake against her.

“She'll go 0-2 in the count, and I'm shaking my head going, 'What are you doing?' And then she jacks it,” Mike Campbell said. “She's going to hit her pitch, and if she doesn't like it, she'll foul it off until she can find one she can drive.”

Buendia is versatile in the field. She plays first base and second base for the Bullets and has played catcher, pitcher, third base and shortstop for Junction City this season.

She has filled the gap at catcher after the starter, senior Amanda Lloyd, suffered a torn ACL in basketball.

“She's developing into a really good catcher,” Mike Campbell said. “She's never caught, but we just didn't have anybody.”

Scappoose 'moving forward' after forfeits

Scappoose, which started the season with high hopes after making the 4A semifinals last season, has had to regroup after forfeiting nine victories for using an ineligible player.

Coach Lindsey Johnson said the violation had to do with paperwork that was overlooked regarding an in-season transfer. She said the player is now eligible and the team is “moving forward.”

“It's unfortunate, but we're going to work through the adversity,” Johnson said.

The Indians were No. 2 in the OSAAtoday 4A preseason coaches poll and were No. 3 in the latest poll, released April 9.

Scappoose was 9-3 at the time of the penalty, dropping its record to 0-12. Heading into Tuesday's game at St. Helens, the Indians were 3-14, including 3-2 in the Cowapa League. They trail No. 2 St. Helens (14-2, 4-1) and No. 7 Astoria (12-4, 4-1) in the league standings.

Scappoose is No. 19 in the 4A power rankings. To make the 16-team state playoff bracket, the Indians need to finish in the top two in the Cowapa or earn a spot as a play-in team.

“One game at a time. We've just got to keep playing,” Johnson said. “The girls have done a really good job of playing through it. They're supportive of each other. We've got the whole situation under control. They've been very positive and haven't let it bring them down.”

Both of Scappoose's league losses came against St. Helens, 4-2 and 2-1 in 10 innings.

GOL powers split

Pendleton and La Grande – tied for No. 5 in the OSAAtoday 4A coaches poll – split a doubleheader Friday with first place on the line in the 4A Greater Oregon League.

The visiting Buckaroos (16-2, 5-1) won the first game 9-7, rallying from a 4-0 deficit with five runs in the fifth inning and three runs in the seventh inning.

Madeline Schumacher hit a two-run triple and Avery Krigbaum added an RBI double in the fifth inning as Pendleton took a 5-4 lead. Avery Quaempts belted a three-run homer in the seventh to make it 9-5.

La Grande (12-1, 5-1) bounced back from its first loss of the season to defeat Pendleton 11-9 in the second game, coming back from a 9-5 deficit with six runs in the last two innings. The Tigers' Marti Anderson capped the rally with a one-out, walk-off three run homer.

The teams meet again for a doubleheader at Pendleton on May 10.

Nicholson gets No. 200

West Salem coach Ty Nicholson reached the 200-win plateau when his team went on the road to defeat McNary 9-7 in a 6A Central Valley Conference game April 17.

Nicholson is 192-111 in two stints covering 13 seasons (2005-08, 2016-present) with the Titans. He went 9-27 in two seasons in his first head coaching job at North Salem (2002-03).

Nicholson said he “has been blessed to have good kids through my career, and eventually you win.”

Against McNary, West Salem was down 7-5 after four innings before rallying to win. Courtney Gills had three hits, including two triples. Celine Ball also had three hits.

Nicholson notched his 201st victory Friday when his team beat North Salem 15-0.

“I’m not a big personal goal person,” Nicholson said. “Years ago I saw 200wins and thought, ‘Oh that’ll be pretty cool,' and honestly I forgot. I wasn’t thinking about it.”

-- Jeremy McDonald contributed to this report

Tri-Valley showdown

No. 1 The Dalles/Dufur gained sole possession of first place in the 4A Tri-Valley Conference with an 8-2 home win over No. 10 Crook County on Monday.

The reigning state champion Riverhawks (11-1, 7-0) had a 10-3 edge in hits, getting two hits each from Zoe LeBreton, Madison Brock and Keilani Crichton-Tunai. Ava Graves had two RBIs for The Dalles, which broke open a scoreless game with five runs in the fourth inning.

“We had some really good, aggressive baserunning, took advantage of some passed balls,” coach Lindy Macnab said. “That just kind of broke things open.”

Despina Seufalemua pitched a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and two walks to record the win. The Dalles will play at Crook County (11-7, 6-1) on Wednesday.

The Riverhawks, who set a state record with 70 home runs last season, have hit 18 this season. Macnab said their bats “are not completely warmed up yet.”

“They're doing a good job defensively, just offensively they haven't found their groove,” she said. “I really just want them to get solid base hits. I don't want them just swinging for the fences.”