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North Medford senior pitcher Taylor Schmidt throws against Westview on Friday. - Larry Stauth Jr.

Balance keys Black Tornado in opener

The North Medford softball team presents multiple concerns for opponents.

Behind a versatile attack, the Black Tornado (22-5) defeated Westview 9-2 in a Class 6A state playoff opener on Friday at North Medford High.

North Medford received a dominant complete-game effort from senior starting pitcher Taylor Schmidt and contributions throughout its lineup to get out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

"This group played together this summer, and they've blended together so well," fourth-year North Medford coach Mike Mayben said. "I can't say enough about the heart they have. They are competitors. They believe in one another.

"There's an energy about this group that I haven't had here in my time."

North Medford, with a mixture of power hitting (five doubles) and effective small ball, amassed 17 hits. Every Black Tornado batter recorded at least one hit, and six finished with multiple hits.

McKenna Storey and Taylor Schmidt each went 3-for-4 with Schmidt collecting one RBI.

Jenna Stevens, Amanda Wolfe and Tejay Schmidt were 2-for-4. Wolfe and Tejay Schmidt had three RBIs apiece.

Amanda Frietas, the No. 9 hitter, was 2-for-3.

"We didn't play that poorly defensively," Westview coach Ronda McKenzie said. "North Medford just hit the ball so well. They took advantage of our pitching."

As consistent as the North Medford offense was, Taylor Schmidt was equally so inside the circle.

She took a no-hitter into the seventh and finished with four strikeouts and four walks to gather her 21st win of the season.

"This year, we're confident," Taylor Schmidt said. "Our team, we play so well together."

Westview (13-14), the No. 4 seed from the Metro League, took advantage of an error, two walks and back-to-back singles to plate its only runs of the game in the seventh. With two on, Chelsea Eytel hit an RBI single to left. After a single from Kayla Luken, Schmidt walked in the second run of the game.

Otherwise, the senior was brilliant.

"Taylor's been, for three years, one of those kids who's consistent," Mayben said. "She's always around the plate, and she competes against every hitter. She doesn't give in, and she works harder than anyone you are going to meet."

Schmidt received support early.

North Medford posted three runs in the first inning, which started with Stevens' double to right-center field.

Storey's bunt single allowed Stevens to score, Taylor Schmidt followed with a single, and Tejay Schmidt brought both home with a one-out double.

"During practice, we just go out there and all hit pretty good," Tejay Schmidt said. "Today, we brought that to the plate."

North threatened again in the second, loading the bases with no outs, but was unable to manufacture a run.

Stevens and Storey spurred another three-run inning in the fourth with consecutive singles before Taylor Schmidt's RBI single. Wolfe then drilled a two-run double.

Taylor Schmidt hit an RBI double in the sixth and later scored on Wolfe's fielder's choice. Wolfe eventually scored on a passed ball to give North the 9-0 edge.

The Black Tornado plays Central Catholic in the second round on Tuesday at Portland's Delta Park.

The Rams (23-3) won the Mt. Hood Conference behind junior pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby.

"She throws very hard," Mayben said of Inglesby. "She's a great pitcher. We're going to have to scrap and battle to get hits. It's a drastic contrast to what we saw today. We have to be very disciplined at the plate."

"To go into their house and get a win is going to take a lot of effort, a lot of work, a lot of focus," added the coach. "But I think our kids believe. They believe they can win, and they believe in each other."

Westview 000 000 2 — 2 2 0

North Medford 300 303 x — 9 17 1

Lawhorn, Bradford (5) and Luken; Ta. Schmidt and Wolfe. W — Wolfe (21-5). L — Lawhorn. 2B — NM: Wolfe 2, Te. Schmidt, Stevens, H. Leming, Ta. Schmidt.

Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com

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