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A slender 5-foot-7, Joci Ellis isn't exactly the most imposing player to the step into the batter's box, but she packed quite a punch Saturday to help lead North Medford to a doubleheader sweep of Crater in softball at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Ellis, a sophomore shortstop, delivered her first-ever home run as the second batter in the bottom of the first inning and that held up for the Black Tornado as it claimed a 1-0 triumph over the Comets in Game 1 of the Southern Oregon Hybrid twin bill. She was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the nightcap, won 11-1 in six innings by North Medford.
"Ellis just had a phenomenal day," said North Medford head coach Mike Mayben. "She hits that first-inning home run and, being a lefty slapper, you kinda worry if she's going to try to lift the ball the rest of the day but she stayed disciplined and hit the ball on the ground or on line drives."
Few would've pegged Ellis for being the player to clear the fence in the opener but everything came together just right on a pitch from Crater senior Renee Murphy. Ellis finished 2-for-3 in the opener.
"She was slapping and caught it just right," said Mayben. "She got nice backspin on it and drove it out to center field."
That blast proved enough on a day when junior pitcher Maryssa Becker tossed a one-hitter — Malorie Mitchell's double was Crater's lone hit — with 10 strikeouts and only one walk. Her counterpart Murphy only allowed four hits with three strikeouts and one walk in a well-played contest by both sides.
The second game belonged entirely to Becker, however, as she returned to strike out 11 against one walk and three hits allowed. Through the first three innings, she posted six strikeouts and only faced three batters per inning.
"Maryssa threw extremely well today, especially since that first game was as tight as it was," said Mayben. "She got stronger in the second game."
Hannah Leming was 3-for-5 for North (10-1, 4-0 SOH) and supplied a walk-off RBI double that bounced over the fence in the sixth. Kelsie Bartley added a two-run homer in the third inning to finish 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Sierra Berryessa (2-for-4), Marissa Gann (3-for-3, one run, one RBI) and Keisha Williams (2-for-3, two runs) also had solid outings.
Crater scored its only run when Allie Winningham doubled in the sixth and eventually came home on a single by Mitchell. The Comets dropped to 2-8 overall and 1-4 in conference.
Crater 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
North Medford 100 000 x — 1 4 0
Murphy and Medina; Becker and Williamson. W — Becker (6-0). L — Murphy. 2B — C: Mitchell; NM: Leming. HR — NM: Ellis (1).
Crater 000 001 — 1 3 1
North Medford 022 322 — 11 18 1
Murphy, Shepard (5) and Medina; Becker and Williamson. W — Becker (7-0). L — Murphy. 2B — C: Winningham; NM: Leming, Berryessa. HR — NM: Bartley (2).
SOUTH MEDFORD 14, ASHLAND 1 — At Ashland, Kylee Nunez pitched a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and three runs for South Medford in nonconference play.
The senior allowed five walks against Ashland (3-8), which committed six errors.
Hannah Thornton was 2-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the seventh inning against the Panthers (2-7).
South Medford 002 033 6 — 14 7 2
Ashland 000 000 1 — 1 3 6
Nunez and Ramsay; G. Williams, S. Williams (7) and N. Lehman. W — Nunez. L — G. Williams.
GRANTS PASS 5-9, EAGLE POINT 3-4 — At Grants Pass, Sadie Zozaya hit a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning of Grants Pass' nonconference opener, and Lizzy Merritt crushed a three-run home run in the second game for the Cavers.
Halee Rose had two hits and Nicole Godwin pounded a solo homer in Game 1 for Grants Pass (6-5).
Brianna Shopp had two hits — including a solo bomb — for Eagle Point in the opener.
In Game 2, Merritt finished with two hits — including her three-run blast in the first inning — and four RBIs. Taylor Thomas had three hits and an RBI and Stephanie Norrick two hits and an RBI.
Megan Cowden finished with three hits — including a solo homer in the fifth — and two runs for the Eagles (6-4). Christine McCready and Emily Jeffries both added two hits apiece.
Eagle Point 002 000 1 — 3 5 1
Grants Pass 110 210 x — 5 6 1
Rodgers and McCready; Robinson and Stevens. W — Robinson (5-2). L — Rodgers. 2B — EP: Rodgers, Shopp; GP: Norrick. HR — EP: Shopp; GP: Godwin (2).
Eagle Point 200 110 0 — 4 11 0
Grants Pass 301 410 x — 9 12 1
Parker and Shopp; Robinson and Stevens. W — Robinson (6-2). L — Parker. 2B — EP: McCready; GP: Thomas, Merritt, Godwin, Zozaya. 3B — GP: Sells. HR — EP: Cowden; GP: Merritt.
PHOENIX 7-4, ROGUE RIVER 0-3 — At Rogue River, Meranda Zanni hit the go-ahead RBI single for Phoenix in the second game as the Pirates secured the nonconference sweep.
In the first game, Amanda Skaff crushed a two-run home run in the fifth inning and added a double, while Mia Alanez recorded two hits for Phoenix (11-2).
Delanie Tally earned the win in Game 1, pitching a four-hitter with four strikeouts and one walk.
In Game 2, Lacey Swangel's two-run homer in the bottom of the first put Rogue River (2-4) ahead 2-0, but the Pirates rallied in the top of the fifth with four runs. Zanni's key hit to center field scored Makayla Scoggins and gave Phoenix its 4-3 lead.
Phoenix 001 024 0 — 7 9 0
Rogue River 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
D. Tally and Hamilton; Taylor and Perkins. W — D. Tally (3-0). L — Taylor (3-1). 2B — P: Skaff. HR — P: Skaff.
Phoenix 000 040 0 — 4 3 1
Rogue River 201 000 0 — 3 5 3
Scoggins, Zanni (5) and Zanni, Hamilton (5); Swangel and Perkins. W — Scoggins (4-0). L — Swangel (1-1). HR — RR: Swangel (2).
HIDDEN VALLEY 24-11, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3-7 — At Murphy, Hidden Valley's Cassie Copeland was a one-person wrecking crew in the nonconference opener, going 4-for-4 with 10 RBIs.
The Mustangs (7-3) finished with 24 hits.
Lucy Sotelo was 3-for-4 with four RBIs in Game 1 for Hidden Valley. Jordan Martinez hit a solo home run for Cascade Christian (3-8).
In Game 2, Michelle Kinney and Beca Ratcliff both finished 3-for-4 and Gabby Scoggins hit a two-run single for the Challengers.
Cascade Christian 011 10 — 3 5 8
Hidden Valley 694 5x — 24 13 2
M. Smith and Martinez, Ratcliff (3); Giurlani and Sotelo. W — Giurlani. L — M. Smith (1-4). 2B — CC: Ratcliff; HV: Copeland. 3B — HV: Copeland, Sotelo. HR — CC: Martinez (2).
Cascade Christian 000 070 0 — 7 11 1
Hidden Valley 203 321 x — 11 11 2
K. Smith and Ratcliff; Giurlani and Allen. W — Giurlani. L — K. Smith (1-3). 2B — CC: Kinney; HV: Fleming, Green. 3B — HV: Sotelo.
GOLD BEACH 7-1, NORTH VALLEY 2-19 — At Gold Beach, Kenzie Schmoll went 3-for-4, scored four runs and batted in four more, and teammate Amber Green cranked her second home run of the season and had five RBIs in Game 2 as North Valley bounced back from the Game 1 setback in a big way.
North Valley's Kady Kantola added three hits and two runs in the second game, which the Knights (4-4) won in five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
In the opener, North Valley's Chelsea Wiley went 3-for-3 with an RBI.
North Valley 001 000 1 — 2 6 0
Gold Beach 000 601 x — 7 5 3
Mohr, Kantola (4) and Stark; Donaca and Rucker. W — Donaca. L —Mohr (1-2). 2B — NV: Stark, Million.
North Valley 390 34 — 19 14 1
Gold Beach 010 00 — 1 3 1
Million, Kantola (3) and Stark; Donaca, Rucker (2) and Rucker, Wallace (2). W — Million (2-2). L — Donaca. 2B — NV: Schmoll 2, Green, Kantola, Wiley. HR — NV: Green (2).