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...
As Janelle Rodgers put it, the North Medford softball team "kept the train rolling" on Tuesday.
Hits fueled the Black Tornado Express — 15 to be precise.
North's offense erupted in a 14-1 victory over Roseburg in five innings during Southern Oregon Hybrid action at North Medford High.
The Black Tornado (16-1, 7-0 SOH) delivered the defeat early using an eight-run, nine-hit third inning.
"For us it was a nice day to break out the bats a little bit," North head coach Mike Mayben said. "We haven't hit the ball as well as we'd like and kids worked really hard to make mechanical adjustments and we saw the results today. They were willing to drive the ball to the gaps — right center, left center — instead of pulling it all the time, and that makes a tremendous difference."
North opened the third with four straight hits, including an RBI single by Alexis Barkwell and two-run double by Katie Ramsay. Rodgers bashed an RBI triple before coming home on a wild pitch.
The Black Tornado wasn't finished.
Grace Jovanovic pounded a two-run triple and scored on a wild pitch, giving North a 12-0 edge.
The hitting success was contagious, Rodgers said.
"When one person gets hot all of us get hot," the first baseman said. "Our energy rises and our momentum rises. We just want to hit another one in, keep it going, keep it rolling. Keep the train rolling."
Kyndle DelCollo cut into the lead with an RBI double for Roseburg (10-8, 3-4) in the top of the fourth.
Joci Ellis smacked a run-scoring triple and Maddie Gates an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Winning pitcher Barkwell used a pair of strikeouts and groundout to wrap things up in five.
Keisha Williams went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, Jovanovic 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs and Rodgers 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run.
Ellis was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI and Gates was 2-for-4.
Barkwell tossed a three-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks to improve to 14-1. Roseburg starter Ashley Martin, who was replaced in the third, allowed nine hits, 11 earned runs and two walks. The defense behind Barkwell was surgical in an error-free performance.
The victory was the Black Tornado's 14th in a row.
The remainder of the Indians' schedule is difficult: They must play North two more times, Grants Pass (14-6) twice and South Medford.
The Black Tornado will play five more league games and two nonleague contests against Eagle Point before taking on Henley and South Salem (the only squad that has defeated North).
When things go right for the Black Tornado's offense, everything seems to move along smoothly, Williams said.
"It just feels really positive and everyone feeds off each other," she said. "It's just a good vibe, it's a good environment to be in — especially with all my friends here."
Roseburg 000 10 — 1 3 2
North Medford 048 2x — 14 15 0
Martin, McDowell (3) and DelCollo; Barkwell and Ramsay. W — Barkwell (14-1). L — Martin. 2B — R: DelCollo; NM: Ramsay. 3B — Ellis, Jovanovic, Rodgers.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt