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 South Medford softball team hadn't played in a week. North Medford had gone nearly two weeks without a game.
Rain had thrown a monkey wrench into their schedules, but not a drop was felt when the cross-town rivals met for an early Southern Oregon Hybrid preview on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.
The Black Tornado cruised to an 11-1 nonleague victory in five innings to pick up its fifth straight triumph at North Medford High.
Grace Jovanovic went 3-for-4 and pitcher Alexis Barkwell tossed a two-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk for North, which erupted for three runs in the first inning and five more in the fifth to end things early.
The Black Tornado (7-1) had hoped to host Willamette in a doubleheader last Saturday, but those plans fell through because of the weather.
"It was just good to get out and play today," said North head coach Mike Mayben, whose squad last played March 27 in a sweep of West Linn. "Both teams had a bit of a layoff and wanted to get some innings in."
South's five errors proved costly.
In the first inning, Joci Ellis and Maddie Gates got on base using an error and walk respectively before they scored on a second Panther error. Jovanovic then came home on a passed ball, giving North a 3-0 lead.
South (3-4) responded. In the top of the second, Tia Garrett singled with one out and Bailee Tatum drove her in with a hit.
North had an answer in the bottom of the inning, as Christina Kuykendall led off with a walk, Megan Cowden reached on an error and then Ellis smacked a run-scoring single.
In the third, Kuykendall hit a two-out RBI single to plate Tra Kucera, who stole second base to set up the opportunity.
The final blow came in the bottom of the fifth, when Gates' line drive to right went off the glove of the South outfielder and scored Janelle Rodgers, Cowden and Ellis. Jovanovic next blasted an RBI triple to left and Katie Ramsay got on base with an error that brought home Jovanovic.
Barkwell, a senior who has signed at Dixie State University, improved to 5-1.
"Alexis was just doing a good job of throwing a lot of strikes today," Mayben said. "She has been working on getting ahead in the count."
South pitcher Pat Moore, a freshman lefty, allowed six hits and seven walks and struck out five.
"No matter what happens, we need to score runs," said South head coach Miranda Gillaspie-Smith, whose team last played on April 2 in a win over Eagle Point. "We need to generate more offense."
Neither team had faced a conference opponent until Wednesday.
"For both teams it was good to see the other team play a bit and get to know some of the players a little before you play in conference," Mayben said.
North and South face off in SOH action on April 22.
"We'll need to make some adjustments and corrections," Gillaspie-Smith said. "We're looking forward to it."
South Medford 010 00 — 1 2 5
North Medford 311 15 — 11 6 0
Moore and Garrett; Barkwell and Ramsay. W — Barkwell (5-1). L — Moore. 3B — NM: Jovanovic.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt