• PREP SOFTBALL

    It's a semi-sweet win for North Medford

    Black Tornado wins third straight playoff in extra innings
  • However the final story unfolds for the North Medford softball team this season, it will undoubtedly include the notion that the top-seeded Black Tornado apparently prefers doing things the hard way.

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    • NORTH MEDFORD 5, CLACKAMAS 4
      RECAP: Marissa Gann doubles to open the ninth inning and eventually scores on a grounder by Hannah Leming to send North Medford to its second Class 6A softball title game in four years.
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      NORTH MEDFORD 5, CLACKAMAS 4
      RECAP: Marissa Gann doubles to open the ninth inning and eventually scores on a grounder by Hannah Leming to send North Medford to its second Class 6A softball title game in four years.

      up next: Saturday, 6A state championship, North Medford vs. South Salem, at OSU Softball Complex in Corvallis.
  • However the final story unfolds for the North Medford softball team this season, it will undoubtedly include the notion that the top-seeded Black Tornado apparently prefers doing things the hard way.
    For the third straight game in the Class 6A state playoffs, North Medford fell behind on the scoreline and ultimately needed extra innings to secure a victory Tuesday against Clackamas, 5-4 in nine innings at North Medford High.
    "The drama is definitely there each time out these days," said North Medford head coach Mike Mayben. "More than anything I'm just proud of the kids because they just hang in there. They don't drop their heads, they don't get discouraged and they don't get down. Clackamas, man, what a scrappy team they are and they competed hard. It was just a great game."
    Marissa Gann smacked a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth, moved to third on a pair of one-out walks to Grace Jovanovic and Joci Ellis and broke the 4-all tie on a fielder's choice grounder by Hannah Leming to second base.
    The hit to left field was Gann's first of the day and hit an even higher note with her peers than her pregame rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
    "Marissa Gann's awesome," Leming said of the fellow senior. "We thought it was going to be an outside pitch but it was an inside pitch and she drove it and we were pretty much speechless because she hadn't really hit the ball like that all game. We knew right then that we could all go on and score some runs."
    Nothing was settled, however, until Leming came up with the bases loaded and sent a hopper to second baseman Sarah Bigej, who had to come up throwing while ranging to her left and sent a low throw home to catcher Vanessa Oakden that couldn't be secured as Gann came sliding through the plate.
    "Hannah's been a clutch kid all year long," said Mayben. "We knew that she would get the ball in play but Clackamas made great plays all day long so to see Hannah get the ball down and make it a hard play at home was phenomenal."
    North Medford (28-1) now moves within one victory of a second state championship in four years and a fourth state title for a team from the Southern Oregon Hybrid in the past five years (Grants Pass won in 2008 and '10). Standing in the way will be a talented South Salem team that ousted fellow SOH squad Crater in Tuesday's other semifinal, 5-2 in Central Point. The Saxons (27-2) are the No. 2 seed overall and are champions of the Central Valley Conference.
    "That's unreal and what I've been thinking about the whole season," Leming said of playing in her second state title game. "To go my freshman year and win it and then come back senior year and go again is just amazing. Hopefully, we're going to try our best to win again."
    The state championship games for the Class 6A, 5A and 4A levels will be played at the Oregon State Softball Complex in Corvallis on Saturday, with game times still to be determined by the Oregon School Activities Association.
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