North Medford's Maryssa Becker is met by teammates at home plate after hitting a home run in the first inning on Saturday. - Andy Atkinson

Black Tornado pounds out 17 hits, rolls past Comets

The North Medford softball team played true to form on Saturday afternoon: Stingy on defense, productive on offense.

Sophomore Maryssa Becker pitched a four-hitter with six strikeouts and crushed a two-run home run to help lead the Black Tornado to a 7-2 victory over Crater in Southern Oregon Hybrid play at North Medford High.

North showed few flaws in its third straight win, offering up a performance that has been classic Black Tornado this season. Through 16 games, the team has allowed just 22 runs and scored 100. North has earned five shutout victories and given up a single run six times in 2011.

On Saturday, the Black Tornado (14-2, 8-1 SOH) recorded 17 total hits and jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the third inning.

"It was really nice to be outside and hit this week, as opposed to being in the hitting cage," North head coach Mike Mayben said. "We saw the ball really well today and I thought we spread the ball around the field. ... We have been trying hard to fix pop-ups and we had very few today. The kids did a nice job hitting hard ground balls and line drives and not putting the ball in the air too much."

Becker faced just three batters in five of the seven innings that she pitched to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed one walk and two runs (one earned) and owned a no-hit shutout until the fourth inning, when Rachel Ray singled to spark a brief Crater push.

To boot, North committed just one error to improve to 3-0 and gain an SOH tiebreaker against the Comets this year. The two squads will meet once more on May 5.

"Maryssa threw an incredible ballgame," Crater head coach Chris Arnold said. "She was tough, not only in the circle but at the plate. ... North was a tough team to play with today. They were firing on all cylinders."

Becker, who belted her two-run homer in the first inning, finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored for the Black Tornado. Her blast to right-center field came with one out. Logan Hagey followed that up with one of her two doubles and Kelsie Bartley then hit a run-scoring single up the middle.

In the bottom of the third, Sierra Berryessa smacked an RBI single with the bases loaded and then Katie Williamson scored from third base on a passed ball.

Ray put the Comets (9-7, 6-3 SOH) on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when she scored on a North throwing error. A batter later, Sarah Haga hit an RBI single to center field that plated Renee Murphy with two outs.

Hagey came home on a Crater throwing error in the fourth, and Becker drove in pinch runner Maddie Gates in the sixth, giving North its 7-2 advantage.

Hagey was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs, Bartley 3-for-4 with an RBI and Amanda Wolfe and Williamson both offered two hits and a run.

Ray finished 2-for-3 for Crater.

"We still have some work to do," Arnold said. "In this conference, it is survival of the fittest."

Crater 000 200 0 — 2 4 2

North Medford 302 101 x — 7 17 1

Murphy and Haga; Becker and Wolfe. W — Becker (8-1). L — Murphy (9-5). 2B — NM: Wolfe, Hagey 2. HR — NM: Becker.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email

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