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In an effort to keep their fans up to date on all that's happening on the diamond, North Medford's softball and baseball teams have been using the latest technology to cover their bases this spring.
With the help of their smartphones and an iScore application, the Black Tornado teams are providing live webcasts of their games — allowing fans who can't make it to the games to still be able to follow along via their computer or smartphone thanks to streaming play-by-play.
"The only reason that we started this three years ago was for our parents," said North Medford softball head coach Mike Mayben. "Ultimately our goal was to give our parents the opportunity, if they're at home and can't make a road trip, to stay informed by watching it on their iPhone or have it on their computer."
Following in his older brother's footsteps, North Medford baseball assistant coach Nate Mayben added the webcast feature for the Black Tornado this season, with the bulk of the work being handled by fellow assistant coach JC Rowley.
"It's nice for the parents and we've gotten a lot of good comments about it," says Nate Mayben.
There are two ways to reach the live webcasts for each program: by visiting iscorecast.com and inputting a special login code or by visiting each team's respective web pages and following a link from there.
For North Medford softball games, go to iscorecast.com and use the login code 93e5ca0c43 (it can also be directly accessed at iscorecast.com/?c=93e5ca0c43) or find that same information at sites.google.com/site/blacktornadofastpitch.
For North Medford baseball games, go to iscorecast.com and use the login code 48fabf00d1 (it can also be directly accessed at iscorecast.com/?c=48fabf00d1) or use the Game Cast link on the main menu at blacktornadobaseball.com.
One difference between the two programs is how long the webcasts are available.
While Mike Mayben is comfortable leaving all of his team's softball games up for all to go back and peruse, veteran Black Tornado baseball head coach Brett Wolfe prefers to only provide that immediate slice of the season and not archive games.
"Brett's an old-school guy that doesn't like all that information out there," Nate Mayben said with a laugh. "While the game's in play it's on there and then usually JC takes it down by the next day."
In reality, the younger Mayben and Rowley didn't give Wolfe much notice that they planned on putting the play-by-play of his team's games online this spring for the first time.
"We didn't give him a choice, we just did it," said Nate Mayben. "After a while, though, he figured out we weren't just keeping spray charts on our phones. He just said, 'I don't care if you do it, just don't leave it up there.'"
To make it work in softball, North assistant Casey Mayben handles the standard pencil and paper scorebook and then relays the necessary information to someone nearby who utilizes a smartphone to input it on the iScore program. Assistant coach Dan Stevens handled the bulk of the webcasts the past couple seasons but his increased work with the junior varsity this year has necessitated that a reserve player or two step in to fill the void.
"The only downside is we keep a paper-pencil scorebook as our main source so we're not as focused on making sure that (webcast) is 100 percent accurate," said Mike Mayben. "There aren't many mistakes on there but occasionally we'll catch something later where maybe a kid was changed out of the lineup and it didn't show that. It's pretty neat though. I've sat with it and just done a mock game, watching it as it popped up, and it's a pretty cool feature."
While Wolfe has left all the high-tech stuff to his assistants, he does appreciate the fact that parents and Black Tornado fans can follow his team even if they're not able to make it to the ballpark.
While it's Rowley who handles the in-game upload of information for the baseball team, Nate Mayben said the program is very user-friendly and he wouldn't mind enlisting its use this summer as head coach for the American Legion AAA Medford Mustangs.
"It's not hard to do at all," he said. "I don't want to do it because you're constantly doing things on your phone and I know (assistant coach) Sandee (Kensinger) wouldn't do it for me. I think it would be a nice little feature to do, I'd just have to find somebody to be able to do it on a consistent basis."