With a talent-heavy pool of softball teams annually making the trip to Medford for the North Medford Spring Break Invitational, finding a challenging nonleague game or two is rarely an issue in the two-day tournament.
That fact has brought considerable pride to Black Tornado head coach Mike Mayben and his staff over the years and, on Monday, it also brought the first loss of the season for the two-time defending Class 6A state champions.
North Medford senior pitcher Alexis Barkwell combined with Sarah Thomas on a one-hitter to open play against Tualatin with an 8-0 victory at North Medford High. The second game, however, didn't work out quite as well for the Tornado as South Salem scored all its runs in the sixth inning to secure a 3-0 victory.
The Saxons were the state runners-up in 2011 and 2012 and boast one of the state's premiere pitchers in senior ace Katie Donovan.
"She's the real deal," Mayben said of Donovan, who has committed to Utah. "We actually ended the game with six hits and she had five strikeouts. Our kids did a great job of making contact and putting the ball in play, but they played great defense. It was definitely a playoff atmosphere and a really good game."
With Glencoe, Grants Pass, Roseburg and Sunset, every 6A state finalist since 2008, except Century, is playing in this year's tournament. Recent finalists from the lower classifications like Crater, Banks, Henley and Marist are also competing, with almost all of the games being played at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Against Tualatin, North Medford got three hits apiece from Joci Ellis, Grace Jovanovic and Keisha Williams and Barkwell drove in two runs on two hits. Barkwell struck out nine, walked two and allowed a single to Beth Fanger in six innings, with Thomas striking out one batter and walking two in a scoreless seventh.
The Black Tornado (2-1) and Saxons (4-0) played to a scoreless draw through 51/2 innings before South Salem finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth with three runs, highlighted by a two-out, two-run double by Julia Clark that plated Jessica Bohnsted and Jaycie McGrath.
North Medford had runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings but couldn't get a hit to fall when it needed it most.
"We had six hits against Donovan and I'd take that any day," said Mayben. "We just needed to string a couple two or three into one inning instead of spreading them out."
Clark and Kelly Burdick each had two hits for the Saxons, who were the designated home team at North Medford High.
Tualatin 000 000 0 — 0 1 4
North Medford 002 051 x — 8 12 0
Sorem, Robbins (6) and Self, Miller (6); Barkwell, Thomas (7) and Ramsay. W — Barkwell (2-0). L — Sorem. 2B — NM: Jovanovic. 3B — NM: Jovanovic.
North Medford 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
South Salem 000 003 x — 3 9 1
Barkwell, Thomas (6) and Ramsay; Donovan and Feiring. W — Donovan. L — Barkwell (2-1). 2B — Clark.
u SOUTH SPLITS — Freshman pitcher Pat Moore delivered her second standout performance in as many games to help South Medford beat North Salem, 9-4, but the Panthers were stymied by another big arm in a 6-3 loss to Hood River Valley at U.S. Cellular.
Moore struck out 13 in her complete-game victory, and also went 3-for-3 at the plate with a triple, four runs scored and an RBI. Hannah Newman was 2-for-4 for South (2-1).
Hood River Valley's Kayla Byas held the Panthers to three runs on seven hits, and also came through at the plate with a two-run home run.
North Salem 012 000 1 — 4 2 1
South Medford 103 212 x — 9 10 3
Hastings, Weckley (4) and Cooper; P. Moore and Garrett. W — P. Moore (2-0). L — Hastings. 2B — SM: R. Moore, Newman. 3B — SM: P. Moore, Garrett.
South Medford 001 020 0 — 3 7 3
Hood River Valley 321 000 x — 6 7 2
Newman, P. Moore (4) and Tatum; Byas and Veatch. W — Byas. L — Newman. 2B — SM: L. DeVaughn; H: Willis. 3B — SM: Gartlan. HR — H: Byas.
U CRATER SPLITS — Simone Smurzynski hit a grand slam in Crater's eight-run fifth inning as the Comets took down David Douglas, 19-5, before falling to Southridge, 11-1, at U.S. Cellular.
Both games lasted five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Smurzynski finished 3-for-4 with six RBIs and two doubles against David Douglas. Olivia Ryerson, Brienna Sheperd and Alex Craft each added two hits for the Comets (1-1).
Dana Lowder accounted for Crater's lone hit against Southridge with a leadoff double in the first inning.
Crater 620 38 — 19 11 1
David Douglas 300 20 — 5 4 4
Fisher and Doggett; Smith and McClure. W — Fisher (1-0). L — Smith. 2B — C: Smurzynski 2, Craft, Sheperd, Ryerson; DD: Langshaw. 3B — C: Fisher; DD: Kuhu. HR — C: Smurzynski (1); DD: Schoen.
Southridge 153 02 — 11 9 0
Crater 100 00 — 1 1 6
Mabray and Johnson; Hassel and Doggett, Martin (5). W — Mabray. L — Hassel (0-1). 2B — S: Bonzer, Mabray, Weaver; C: Lowder.
u GRANTS PASS SWEEPS — At Grants Pass, Amy Robinson paced host Grants Pass to a 5-1 win over Newberg and a 9-2 win over Sheldon.
Robinson struck out 17 batters and allowed three hits in the nine-inning win over Newberg, in which she also drove in the winning run.
Against Sheldon, Robinson allowed five hits and fanned 11 to complement a solid effort at the plate by Nicole Godwin.
Grants Pass 000 000 005 — 5 5 1
Newberg 000 000 001 — 1 3 1
Robinson and Doman; Bromagem and Wilson. W — Robinson. L — Bromagem. 2B — GP: Lenard.
Sheldon 000 002 0 — 2 5 5
Grants Pass 002 403 x — 9 8 3
Eaton, Radloff (5), Mundorf (6) and Phillips; Robinson and Doman. W — Robinson. L — Eaton. 2B — GP: Godwin. 3B — GP: Godwin, Doman.
u EAGLES DROP TWO — Eagle Point was in position to win both its games at U.S. Cellular but committed seven errors that led to 13 unearned runs overall and lost a pair, 9-8 to Sunset and 8-5 to Glencoe.
Sophomore pitcher Teanna Gonsalves finished with nine strikeouts in eight innings against Sunset and did not allow an earned run while also going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Against Glencoe, Brianna Shopp hit a two-run double in the third to help Eagle Point (0-2) seize a 5-0 lead, but a crucial error on the bottom half of the inning allowed Glencoe to rally.
Eagle Point's Emily Jeffries was 4-for-6 overall with three RBIs.
Sunset 004 200 21 — 9 5 3
Eagle Point 001 520 00 — 8 9 5
Roberts and Harrison; Gonsalves and Shopp. W — Roberts. L — Gonsalves (0-1). 2B — S: Jaekel 2; EP: Gonsalves 2. 3B — EP: Gonsalves, Jeffries.
Eagle Point 014 000 0 — 5 5 2
Glencoe 004 202 x — 8 10 2
Ayers, Gonsalves (5) and Shopp; Eiseman, Rossman (3) and Apung. W — Rossman. L — Ayers (0-1). 2B — EP: Shopp, Hoag, Jeffries; G: Eiseman 2.
u PHOENIX FALLS — Phoenix freshman Tiona Hurd went a combined 5-for-8 with two RBIs and Makayla Scoggins had a two-run double against St. Helens and a two-run home run against Marist in a pair of season-opening losses, with St. Helens winning 15-6 and Marist winning 9-5.
Amanda Skaff was 3-for-4 in the opener and added a two-run double in the nightcap, while Sara Saurman was 2-for-4 with a two-run triple against St. Helens and Adriana Mereida-Ford was 2-for-3 with one RBI against Marist.
St. Helens 070 151 1 — 15
Phoenix 000 230 1 — 6
Phoenix 000 002 3 — 5
Marist 210 204 x — 9
u NORTH VALLEY SPLITS — Jennifer Staten went 2-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs to help power North Valley to a 12-2, six-inning win over Springfield, but a quick 4-0 deficit proved problematic as the Knights fell 5-4 to South Eugene at U.S. Cellular.
Abi Kite and Shayla Phillips each added two hits against Springfield, and Emily Allen was 2-for-3 with one RBI and earned the pitching victory for North Valley (2-3).
South Eugene's Megan Henshaw belted a two-run homer in a four-run first inning in Game 2 but Allen came on in relief and allowed only one run after that in 52⁄3 innings and also went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Springfield 100 100 — 2 7 4
North Valley 321 303 — 12 12 1
Gaffney and C. Deschaine; Allen and Kite. W — Allen (2-1). L — Gaffney. 2B — S: C. Deschaine; NV: Staten, Kantola, Dechenne.
North Valley 000 110 2 — 4 7 0
South Eugene 400 100 x — 5 7 1
Kantola, Allen (1) and Stark; Me. Henshaw and Siler-Hunly. W — Me. Henshaw. L — Kantola (0-1). 2B — NV: Dechenne; SE: Mo. Henshaw. HR — SE: Me. Henshaw.
U HIDDEN VALLEY FALLS — Mired by errors, Hidden Valley was dealt a 15-2 loss by St. Helens and Rainier claimed an 11-0 win at U.S. Cellular. Both games went five innings by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule.
The Mustangs (0-5) committed eight errors against St. Helens and three versus Rainier.
St. Helens 424 50 — 15 6 0
Hidden Valley 020 00 — 2 5 8
Moore and Leal; Lawson and Bragg. W — Moore. L — Lawson. 2B — SH: Sass 2. HR — SH: Leal.
Rainier 416 00 — 11 7 0
Hidden Valley 000 00 — 0 4 3
Probasco and Gray, Clifford (4); York, Scheely (3), Lawson (5) and Bragg. W — Probasco. L — York. 2B — R: Sanchez, Probasco. 3B — R: Clark.