Century catcher Kristin Kennedy tags out North Medford's Sierra Berryessa at home plate during the first inning on Friday. - Jamie Lusch

North meets its match

She saw members of the Century softball team leap into each other's arms and she saw her North Medford teammates begin to cry.

Maryssa Becker searched her heart as the juxtaposition of delight and disappointment spurred emotions so strong that she too began to weep.

Instead of mulling over everything that had just happened, the North Medford sophomore pitcher simply reacted to the scenes on Friday.

"I just hugged everybody," Becker said.

She and the Black Tornado came up short against the Jaguars, falling 2-1 in the Class 6A state quarterfinal game at North Medford High.

The tear-jerking loss marked the final contest of a grand season for North, which won the Southern Oregon Hybrid championship and finished 24-4 overall. All four of the Black Tornado's defeats came by a single run.

"This is my last year and it kind of sucks because it was my last game," senior left fielder Amanda Freitas said. "But in a way it was a good ending because at least it was on our field and together as a family."

The Jaguars, who were ninth in the Oregon School Activities Association rankings, next host Roseburg in the 6A state semifinals on Tuesday. The Indians beat Tualatin 2-1 on Friday.

Century's Miranda Foster hit an RBI single with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third inning to give her squad a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, Sammi Coates' run-scoring double to left field provided the Jaguars a 2-0 advantage.

North's only run came with two runners on in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Freitas' sacrifice fly drove in Becker. Century center fielder Jessica Weber made a spectacular catch on the play, securing Freitas' hit just as right fielder Brittany O'Connor collided with her.

Weber recovered quickly and threw the ball to Jaguar shortstop Miranda Foster, who helped complete the relay to catcher Kristin Kennedy and prevent Logan Hagey — who had singled to center field following Becker's base hit to start the inning — from tying the game.

Century had a chance to score some more, rattling off three consecutive hits with two outs in the top of the seventh before an offensive interference call ended the inning.

The game concluded oddly in the bottom of the seventh. Katie Williamson got things started by singling and then just beating out the Century third baseman's throw to first. After Alyssa Maurer struck out, Sierra Berryessa connected on a hit that bounced and hit pinch runner Jocilynn Ellis on the legs as she sprinted for second base, resulting in the second out of the inning.

Down to her team's final out, Hannah Leming struck out.

And that's when the tears started to roll.

"In 2009 (when North Medford won the 6A state championship), we got a lot of bounces go our way and you have to have that when you win a state title," North Medford head coach Mike Mayben said. "Today that team played an incredible game. They didn't make a lot of mistakes. While we didn't make a lot of mistakes, we just didn't capitalize on a few things here and there, but the kids on both sides played extremely hard.

"It's heartbreaking because we know how hard our kids worked, how passionate they were about it and to come up one run short, it is hard to swallow."

Winning pitcher Montana McNealy struck out eight and allowed six hits and two walks.

"We've lived and died by our pitcher all year because she is really good," Century head coach Kevin Brown said. "We knew if we could score two or three runs we could give ourselves a chance to win, and that is what we did today."

Becker recorded eight strikeouts and gave up seven hits and two walks for the Black Tornado, which entered ranked first by the OSAA.

McNealy finished 2-for-2 and Coates was 2-for-4 for Century (20-9).

Afterward, Becker didn't want to leave.

"We just were like, 'We don't want to leave, we just want to have a sleepover in the team room," Becker said, beginning to cheer up.

Century 001 010 0 — 2 7 2

North Medford 000 001 0 — 1 6 1

McNealy and Kennedy; Becker and Wolfe. W — McNealy. L — Becker. 2B — C: Coates; NM: Leming.

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

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