North Medford's Alyssa Maurer safely makes it to second base before North Salem's Shae Smotherman catches the ball while Maggie Rust looks on Monday during a game held at North Medford. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

North Medford takes care of business

For a fun-loving softball team, North Medford wasn't messing around much Monday in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Ranked No. 1 in the state's power rankings and facing a polar opposite program in North Salem, which was ranked 42nd out of 43 teams, the Black Tornado had every reason to sit back and simply try to cruise to an expected victory.

Instead, North Medford cranked it up a notch behind dominant pitching and aggressive base running to secure a 10-0, five-inning victory over the visiting Vikings.

Black Tornado sophomore pitcher Maryssa Becker set the tone early, loudly popping the mitt of catcher Amanda Wolfe with deft precision to strike out the side in the first inning. North Salem (5-21) appeared overmatched on each swing and Becker was not willing to give an inch.

"We don't see that type of speed in our league very often," said Vikings head coach Molly Barnes, whose team boasts only one senior. "When you're not really seeing that all year long and then you have to come out and face it in one game like this, it's hard to make that adjustment really quickly to catch up to that pitcher."

Becker actually struck out the first four batters before sophomore Maggie Rust barely got a piece of one offering, bouncing it three feet in front of the plate. Wolfe reacted quickly but struggled to corral the ball, leaving Rust to reach on an error.

All Becker did after that was strike out four straight batters to eliminate any notion that there was a chink in her armor. Before giving way to junior Kelsie Bartley, the right-hander fielded a pair of comebackers and saw only one ball hit beyond her grasp, and that was an easy fly to center fielder Sierra Berryessa.

Becker finished with nine strikeouts and no walks in her four innings, with Bartley striking out three of four batters in the fifth.

"She's a good pitcher," Barnes said of Becker. "She really doesn't throw a lot of balls and she hangs on those corners really well, and we had a difficult time today catching up to that."

The mismatch was obvious, and was exactly what North Medford head coach Mike Mayben had planned for in starting Becker against the Vikings.

"They were definitely well behind Maryssa," said Mayben, whose team will next host Southridge, a 4-1 winner over Tigard, in Wednesday's second round. "Especially in the first three innings, she was throwing extremely hard, and with the movement she has when she throws hard, too, it's a tough adjustment if they haven't seen anything like that up there."

On offense, the Black Tornado (23-3) put the pressure on North Salem from the first inning on, scoring in every inning. Senior third baseman Logan Hagey drew a bases-loaded walk in the first to plate junior second baseman Hannah Leming, and senior Berryessa provided some cushion with a two-run hit to right field that got past Sueciana Lolin and created a bit of levity when she tried to race all the way around the bases.

Moments after Berryessa rounded third base, North Salem's relay throw on the error finally reached catcher Shoshawna Whitney. Realizing she was hung out to dry, Berryessa simply stopped a few steps from home plate in mock retreat, then tried unsuccessfully to break past Whitney when the catcher momentarily lost her balance.

"I saw it go under (Lolin's) glove and I tried to run as fast as I could. I didn't really make it, but that's OK," Berryessa said with a laugh. "I saw the ball beat me there so I just thought maybe I should stop so I wasn't out, and then she kinda backed up and I tried to get home but I was a little short."

After Leming was hit by a pitch and Wolfe singled to right field, Becker built the Tornado's lead to 4-0 with a single to left field.

Alyssa Maurer plated Bartley in the third and North Medford scored three more runs in the fourth against reliever Katelyn Nordlien, thanks to three walks, one passed ball, an RBI groundout by Bartley and an RBI double by Amanda Freitas down the third-base line.

North Medford closed the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth after North Salem got its lone hit of the game on a flare to right field by Bryana Rupp off Bartley. Maurer walked, stole second and eventually scored on a groundout by Leming, then Wolfe walked and was off and running for the game-clinching score when Becker blasted a shot by shortstop Shae Smotherman for a walk-off double.

"(Nordlien) was throwing hard so I just knew that if I loaded early the ball was going to go," said Becker, who finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs. "I was just focused on using my top hand to keep it on the ground and make the defense make a play, and I just hit it hard somewhere and fortunately it made it through."

Berryessa had two hits and two RBIs, and seven players drove in at least one run for the Black Tornado.

"Our team realizes that any game now can be our last game and we don't want that," said Becker. "I know me and Kelsie have been working really hard and focusing on potentially playing three games in a week this week. We talked about the most important thing is just hitting your spots and that was my goal today and it seemed to do the trick."

North Salem 000 00 — 0 1 3

North Medford 131 32 — 10 8 2

Luke, Nordlien (4) and Whitney; Becker, Bartley (5) and Wolfe. W — Becker (12-1). L — Luke. 2B — NM: Freitas, Becker.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or email Follow him at

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