North Medford's Sierra Berryessa smacks a double in the second inning of Thursday's Class 6A playoff game. - Andy Atkinson

Big second inning propels North to 6A playoff victory

Facing a 2-0 deficit to Southridge entering the bottom of the second inning, North Medford could have been a little antsy at the plate in Thursday's second round of the Class 6A softball state playoffs.

Then again, that's just not the Black Tornado's style.

Showing the maturity to learn from first-inning hiccups and the poise to implement a more focused approach, North Medford was able to break out in a big way against the visiting Skyhawks and take control at North Medford High.

The Black Tornado sent nine batters to the plate in the second inning against a pair of Southridge pitchers, scoring five times in the frame to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish in securing a 7-3 triumph.

The win was the sixth straight for North Medford (24-3) and 13th in the last 14 games. It also earned the local girls a date with Century (19-9) at home today in the state quarterfinals.

"We're going to celebrate this one a little bit and then we'll be ready to focus up for (today)," said Tornado center fielder Sierra Berryessa.

It was Berryessa who supplied the go-ahead runs with a bases-clearing double in the second, but there was plenty of quality play by her teammates that set the stage for her key two-out shot.

Southridge starting pitcher Cheyenne Mendenhall used a crafty changeup to keep North off balance and send the Tornado down in order in the first, but she had no such luck with that strategy in the second. After getting a pair of foul balls for strikes against sophomore Maryssa Becker, Mendenhall went with the changeup again but to no avail as Becker patiently kept her weight and hands back and drilled a single into left field.

After a sacrifice bunt by senior Logan Hagey, junior Kelsie Bartley hit a sinking flare off the end of her bat that first baseman Mackenzie Spencer dived for but had the ball glance off her glove to put runners on the corners. Courtesy runner Katie Williamson then stole second and senior Amanda Freitas kept the momentum going with a crisp RBI single to left field on a 3-2 pitch that cut North's deficit in half.

Southridge (18-10) then opted to change pitchers and bring in Spencer, who induced a hopping comebacker by freshman Jocilynn Ellis but tried to pump-fake a throw to pick Williamson off third but the tag was too late.

Senior Alyssa Maurer followed with a fielder's choice where Southridge got the second out at home, but Berryessa picked up her teammates moments later with a high drive over the head of newly inserted left fielder Page Neslanik for a three-run double.

"With runners on base you want to do anything to get them in so you go up there and say anything close you're going to swing and try and do your best to get your players in and that's all I did," said the junior, who was rounding first before she saw the ball on the outfield grass. "I was just running as hard as I could. Then I just took a look and saw that the ball was over her head and I just kept on running to second."

That 4-2 lead was extended moments later when junior Hannah Leming sent a drive into right-center field that ricocheted off the glove of center fielder Abby Komin for a two-base error and 5-2 lead for North.

"That's been the story of our season all year," said Southridge head coach Wilbur Charters, whose team also lost 11-1 to the Tornado earlier this season. "When we get these good teams like this we run into one bad inning, and it just killed us all year long. I knew two runs wasn't going to be enough. I thought three would be nice, but when we blew up in that one inning you could tell it was just totally upside down after that."

The Skyhawks scratched back for a run following a leadoff double by Spencer and two-out triple by Tori Gentile, but then Bartley handed the ball off to her good friend Becker and that was all she wrote. Becker battled back from a 3-0 hole to get a comebacker for an inning-ending out by Neslanik, then put up goose eggs on the scoreboard by sitting down the next 12 batters faced.

"We've played them before and they couldn't really hit off Beck so I think that was a good decision," said Berryessa. "Kelsie and Maryssa are both great pitchers and they've both been so important for us this year."

Bartley allowed three runs on six hits with three strikeouts in 22/3 innings, with Becker picking her up by tossing a no-hitter over the final 41/3 innings. Becker struck out five and didn't let a ball get beyond the infield.

To her credit, Bartley moved over to first base and spent the rest of the game punishing the softball at the plate. She hit a one-hop double to the center field fence to plate Hagey in the third, then scored to make it 7-3 when Ellis beat out an infield single. In the fifth, Bartley cranked out another double to reach base in all three at-bats.

"She hit two bombs today with those," said Berryessa. "Those were great hits."

Six different players got at least one hit and seven different players scored in another balanced outing for the Tornado, which remained confident throughout.

"We knew that they were a great hitting team and they were going to score, so we just thought if we got a jump on them early that might be big for us," said Berryessa. "The first inning we didn't really do it but the second inning we came out and we had the mentality that we were going to score. People started getting on and we were just moving them over and executing really well."

Southridge 111 000 0 — 3 6 3

North Medford 052 000 x — 7 7 0

Mendenhall, Spencer (2) and Bonzer; Bartley, Becker (3) and Wolfe. W — Becker (13-1). L — Spencer. 2B — S: Spencer; NM: Berryessa, Bartley 2. 3B — S: Gentile.

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

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