Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
The Phoenix softball team's high-powered offense cooled down a bit over the last two days, but head coach Jason Zanni said he was still happy with the resolve his bunch displayed at the 36-team North Medford Invitational.
Led by senior ace Meranda Zanni, the Pirates downed South Eugene 5-1 before coming up short in an 8-0 loss to Hood River Valley on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Phoenix had outscored opponents 57-8 before falling 4-1 to McLoughlin on Monday and playing its final tourney games on Tuesday. The Pirates did face some adversity over the two-day stretch, playing without starting catcher Kasey Hamilton the whole time and opening against Hood River Valley sans Zanni, who was held out for the first three innings due to illness.
Phoenix (5-2) finished with a 2-2 record at the tournament.
"We're maybe 70 or 80 percent of what we should be," coach Zanni said. "We have the fundamentals. We've just got to get ride of some mistakes. ... More than anything, I'm proud of the girls. I absolutely love these kids. They came out and gave it everything they had. I think we will bounce back from this like it was nothing."
Zanni threw a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts and one walk as the Pirates cruised past South Eugene (1-6).
After an error by Phoenix in the top of the first inning led to Megan Henshaw driving in Molly Henshaw, the Pirates shut out the Axemen.
Amanda Skaff's two-out double scored Delanie Tally — who filled in at catcher — in the bottom of the first, and Phoenix tacked on four more runs two innings later.
In the third, Ashlyn Flynn bashed a two-run single that drove in Tally and Skaff, who each singled to get on base. Hailey Wyncoop was walked before Alyssa Wallack and Makayla Scoggins both pounded RBI singles.
Then both offenses came to a screeching halt.
"We just unfortunately hit the ball right at them," coach Zanni said. "They were making plays."
Skaff finished 2-for-3 with a run and two stolen bases. Tally was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and two stolen bases.
The Pirates were 7-for-7 on stolen bases against the Axemen.
South Eugene is coached by former Phoenix wrestling assistant Dave May.
"Baby steps," May said of his efforts to turn around the club. "It's a program that doesn't have a home field. That is a big struggle. We are getting one built. ... I remind the girls every day that we are getting better."
Phoenix didn't have much luck against Hood River Valley (7-1), falling behind 6-0 after three innings.
Flynn was 2-for-3 with a double in the seventh. Zanni, who was scheduled to start but felt sick after eating something disagreeable, fanned five in relief of Scoggins.
The Pirates lost to Madras 3-0 in the first round of last year's Class 4A state playoffs and finished 20-7. They graduated two seniors and returned two seniors this spring (Zanni and Tally).
South Eugene 100 000 0 — 1 2 1
Phoenix 104 000 0 — 5 10 2
Leiblein and Silvers-Harnly; Zanni and D. Tally. W — Zanni (4-1). L — Leiblein. 2B — P: Skaff, D. Tally, Scoggins.
Phoenix 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
Hood River Valley 132 002 x — 8 9 1
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org