A week before a possible for-all-the-marbles collision with Grants Pass, the North Medford softball team made sure it wouldn’t stumble in a less glamorous Southwest Conference matchup with South Eugene.
The Black Tornado went off at the plate in the first inning of both games and received a pair of strong pitching performances by ace Rylan Austin to dismantle the visiting Axemen. In a twin bill that began at North Medford High before shifting to U.S. Cellular Park after a downpour rendered North’s home field unplayable, the Tornado rolled to two easy wins, 15-1 and 14-1.
Both games were limited to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
“A couple of big innings got us going in both games and then it was status quo from there,” North Medford head coach Chris Campbell said.
The Game 2 victory was North Medford’s third straight since losing to Roseburg on April 17, allowing the Tornado (16-3, 11-1 SWC) to leapfrog Grants Pass by a half-game in the SWC standings. South Eugene fell to 5-16 and 3-11.
Now, North Medford has one game left Tuesday at Willamette before its showdown with the Cavers, but Campbell said his team won’t be caught looking ahead.
“We talked about that all week, that we can’t afford to take any games off,” he said. “We’ve got to compete and get better, and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. That’s the road they want to take and that’s the same attitude they’ve had.”
That mindset certainly paid off Saturday, as the Tornado scored nine runs in the first inning of the first game and eight in the first inning of the second to leave little doubt regarding the eventual outcome.
In the opener, North had six players with two hits or more, led by Austin, who went 3-for-3 with four RBIs, and leadoff hitter Lauren Barry, who had a double, a triple and scored three runs.
In the second game, Alex Barry and Chelby Smalley had three hits apiece to lead North’s 16-hit attack, which also featured two triples each by Lauren Barry and Austin.
Besides driving in five runs, including three on a triple in the fourth, Austin also pitched another gem in Game 2, her second of the day. She tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in the second game, and gave up three hits while striking out five in the opener.
South Eugene 000 10 — 1 3 1
North Medford 902 4x — 15 17 2
Kurtz and Kochevar; Austin and Smalley. W — Austin (15-2). L — Kurtz. 2B — SE: O’Quinn; NM: L. Barry, Gann. 3B — NM: L. Barry, Ivens, Kruse.
South Eugene 100 00 — 1 2 0
North Medford 801 5x — 14 16 1
Clark and Kochevar; Austin and Smalley. W — Austin (16-2). L — Kurtz. 2B — SE: Kurtz. 3B — NM: L. Barry 2, Austin 2.
HENLEY 17, PHOENIX 0, 5 inn.: At Klamath Falls, Phoenix was limited to one hit and Henley put up 11 runs in the fourth inning of the Skyline Conference contest.
Brooke Kentner’s single in the fourth inning for Phoenix (5-10, 1-7 Sky) broke up the no-hit bid for Henley pitcher Lilly Poe.
The Hornets (15-4, 8-0) received a three-run home run from Tanner Higgins, who went 4-for-4.
Phoenix 000 00 — 0 1 3
Henley 420 (11)x — 17 16 0
Mathewson and Bowman; Poe and Perez. W — Poe. L — Mathewson. 2B — H: Ca. Moore. 3B — H: Nemec. HR — H: Higgins.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 11-9, ILLINOIS 1-3: At Cave Junction, freshman pitcher Katelyn Willard captured the first of her two wins on the afternoon with a no-hitter in Cascade Christian’s sweep of Illinois Valley.
Willard struck out 10, allowed one unearned run and a walk in the game that was called in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule. She also went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Challengers (12-7, 6-0 Southern Cascade League).
Willard’s batterymate, Ali Modrell, had two triples and scored twice while Makenna Payne and Rebecca Clark both went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
In the top of the sixth inning of Game 2, Mallory Meilicke hit her second inside-the-park home run of the season — a three-run shot to right field that extended the Challengers’ lead to 7-3.
Meilicke, Modrell, Clark and Payne all had two hits while Willard, from the circle, fanned 11 and allowed three runs — just one earned — on three hits and two walks across seven innings.
Cascade Christian 310 70 — 11 9 1
Illinois Valley 100 00 — 1 0 5
Willard and Modrell; Menning and Yoshinara. W — Willard (11-6). L — Menning. 2B — CC: Clark. 3B — CC: Clark, Modrell 2.
Cascade Christian 010 024 2 — 9 10 4
Illinois Valley 200 010 0 — 3 3 7
Willard and Modrell; Menning and Yoshinara. W — Willard (12-6). L — Menning. 2B — CC: Payne; IV: Engles. 3B — CC: Payne; IV: Moore. HR — CC: Meilicke (2).