North Medford pitcher Kelsie Bartley fires a strike through the rain in the fourth inning against Westview on Friday. - Andy Atkinson

Bartley, top-ranked Tornado slip by Westview

North Medford junior catcher Amanda Wolfe had a big smile and an even bigger compliment reserved for Kelsie Bartley following their softball team's 2-0 win over Westview on Friday.

Even during the tensest moments of the Class 6A state playoff game — and there were only a handful at North Medford High — Wolfe said she was never concerned about the sophomore pitcher.

"I knew (Bartley) was going to come through, even with the bases loaded and no outs," Wolfe said. "I wasn't nervous at all because I have total confidence in the team and we have been in situations like that before, especially last year in the playoffs. We got out of a lot of jams. So it really wasn't anything new."

Bartley pitched a three-hitter to help lift the top-ranked Black Tornado to its fifth straight victory.

North (25-2) will face the winner of Friday's contest between Lincoln and Forest Grove on Tuesday.

The Southwest Conference champions, who recorded a hit in every inning but the first, staved off Wildcat charges in the fourth and sixth innings and manufactured just enough offense to survive and advance.

"It pushed our kids, but we knew coming in that Westview is a good team," North head coach Mike Mayben said. "The Metro is a very competitive league. ... One thing I am always proud of is our kids because you get in those situations where you can walk out into the circle during a timeout and some teams are wide-eyed and what do we do next? But these kids, once they get what the plan is, they are focused and they know they are going to make the play."

And play they did, even after rain pounded the field and delayed the game for several minutes.

With two outs and baserunners on the corners, Sierra Berryessa drove in Hannah Leming with a single to right field in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Black Tornado a 1-0 lead.

Wolfe helped put North ahead 2-0 an inning later with a single to left, which scored Amanda Freitas.

"I knew if I crowded the plate she was going to throw me in, which is what I wanted so I could hit it to left field," Wolfe said. "Because that is more my power. I saw that she threw it in (and) I just kind of stuck my bat out there."

Hannah Leming and Berryessa both finished with two hits, and Kelsey Leming belted a two-out double to left in the fourth.

Bartley finished with three strikeouts and three walks. She did not give up a hit until the fourth inning, when the Wildcats threatened to score after loading the bases. Bartley began the inning by hitting Kendra Day with a pitch, allowing a bunt single and surrendering a walk.

"It was hard when you go out there and it rains and you play late and you don't know who you are playing," said Bartley, who improved to 14-1. "You just have to work through it and that is what we did."

With no outs, North went to work against Westview (14-13). Bartley threw Day out as she charged for home plate on a Kayla Luken fielder's choice. Center fielder McKenna Storey made a difficult catch for her squad's second out and Sarah Lawhorn grounded out to end the sweat-it-out inning.

Westview began the top of the sixth inning with a walk and single up the middle. Bartley responded with a strikeout and Storey wrapped up the inning with consecutive defensive plays, including a deep throw to Wolfe that beat a sprinting Day to home.

"(Storey) has been clutch all year and covers so much ground at center field," Mayben said. "Most of these teams, they expect a double and then she is camped under it like it's a routine flyball."

Ashley Garcia, who pitched for Westview, had two hits. She took the loss for the Wildcats, who lost 9-2 to North in the opening round of the playoffs last spring. The Black Tornado went on to win the 6A state title.

"We are in a position where being the underdog, we didn't have anything to lose, so that was our focus," Westview head coach Ronda McKenzie said. "We wanted to come out and play hard for seven innings and see what happens. The girls did ... if we run the bases a little differently, we might score a run or two.

"We took advantage to get the bases loaded but then we couldn't push anything across. That was unfortunate for us."

And the win, Mayben said, was a fortunate and valuable lesson for his players.

"You want your kids to get that exposure of making that important play, getting each out and not making mistakes," Mayben said. "And we did that today, so that was good."

Westview 000 000 0 — 0 3 2

North Medford 011 000 x — 2 9 1

Garcia and Luken; Bartley and Wolfe. W — Bartley (14-1). L — Garcia. 2B — NM: K. Leming.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail

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