Big inning lifts Grants Pass over Medford for state crown

Grants Pass and Medford American matched zeros on the scoreboard through four innings Tuesday with state bragging rights on the line.

The Grants Pass All-Stars, however, found its scoring groove in the fifth inning to put a stranglehold on the game and the state championship with a 4-0 victory in the title contest of the three-team 13- to 16-year-old Senior Division State Softball Tournament at the Medford American Little League Complex.

Grants Pass, the District 8 champion, moves on as the Oregon representative to the Western Regional in Missoula, Mont., beginning Thursday. GP, which is guaranteed five games at regionals, will open up against Northern California.

District 6 champion Medford American ends its season at 28-3-1.

Hannah Berman led Medford with two hits, while Kayla Lowery and Jasmine Aaron each had RBIs for Grants Pass.

Grants Pass starter Amanda Schaff tossed four innings of two-hit ball to pick up the pitching win.

Medford ace Mikayla Brown struck out five and gave up five hits in the losing effort.

Schaff worked the first two innings, was relieved by Michelle Martin in the third, then came on to close out the game by pitching the sixth and seventh innings.

"I can't describe how nervous and intense this tournament was," said Schaff, 15. "We're so excited to be going to Montana."

Grants Pass broke through in the fifth with a bloop single by Jerrica Holmes to lead off and an infield hit by Jordan Hueth to move runners to first and second with no outs.

Holmes came around to score on an errant throw as she attempted to steal third base and Hueth scored one batter later on an error off a grounder by Allie DeLisle. Lowery added an RBI single to make it 3-0 and Aaron capped the scoring when she drew a bases-loaded walk to force home a run two batters later.

That was more than enough for Schaff over the final two frames.

"Amanda's been our ace all year," said Grants Pass manager Tim DeLisle. "It was nice it worked out where I had her to start and finish."

Grants Pass had to battle back from an earlier loss to Medford in the tournament, then had to defeat Medford Monday to stay alive and force a final game in the double-elimination tournament.

Medford American, the defending state champions, would have wrapped up the title with a victory Monday, but instead had to face a surging GP squad again.

And with three pitchers available in its rotation for the championship finale, manager DeLisle had plenty of arms at his disposal.

"We'd faced (Brown) twice already — she's a good one — so we were weathering the storm early," said DeLisle of the scoreless first four innings. "She's the star pitcher but we knew she was almost all they had left to throw. I had three (pitchers) to juggle, so we felt good about that."

Medford American stranded nine baserunners and left runners at third base four times.

In the first inning, Medford loaded the bases with two outs but had its rally snuffed out when Grants Pass shortstop DeLisle snagged a sharply hit line drive off the bat of Seneca Bowne to end the threat.

Medford also put runners on second and third in the sixth but Schaff induced a pop out to end the frame.

"Grants Pass definitely wanted this game," said Medford manager Thom Auger. "Not to say we didn't.

"The girls played as a team, just like we asked them to. That's all we could ask of them."

"We had plenty of chances," added Medford coach Mike Sandau. "We just couldn't capitalize when we had the opportunity."

Medford American was a combination of two teams — one coached by Auger and the other by Sandau.

The two squads came together for the district and state tournaments.

Last year's Medford team moved on to the regional tournament without playing districts or the state tournament because of a lack of competition.

Grants Pass was one of those that didn't even field a squad a year ago.

"It was more a lack of coaches willing to put in the time," said coach DeLisle. "We had the players."

There's plenty of interest this year, though.

"This is something Grants Pass has never done before," said DeLisle of the state crown. "We're going to see a huge skill bump up (at regionals), but the girls will give it their all.

"I don't know if we have aspirations of winning it, but we'll go over there and compete."

Medford American 000 000 0 — 0 4 4

Grants Pass 000 040 x — 4 5 2

Brown and Evertt; Schaff, M. Martin (3), Schaff (6) and Hanberg. W — Schaff. L — Brown. 2B — M: Berman.

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail

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