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...
Pat Moore would not be denied.
The South Medford freshman tossed a two-hitter with 15 strikeouts and four walks to lead the Panthers to a 2-1 win over Grant in a Class 6A state play-in contest Tuesday at South Medford High.
The Panthers (9-13) will next compete in the first round of the playoffs Monday.
Moore was cool under pressure in the bottom of the seventh inning, fanning three straight with the bases loaded and no outs.
The lefty was 3-for-4 with two doubles at the plate.
"She definitely got after it," South head coach Miranda Gillaspie-Smith said.
South pinch runner Jeryka Johnson scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Liz DeVaughn led off with a single before Marissa Tarazon moved Johnson to second base with a sacrifice bunt. Johnson advanced to third on a Bailee Tatum groundout and then came home on a passed ball.
The play-in game would not have been necessary had South beat Crater — the last-place squad in the Southern Oregon Hybrid — once in a doubleheader last Saturday. But the Comets swept the series and earned their first league victories of the season, leaving the Panthers in fourth place in the conference standings — one spot shy of an automatic playoff berth.
The Generals (9-14), who finished last in District 2, evened the game at 1 in the top of the fourth when Aliya Ewell scored on a passed ball. Moore shut the door on Grant after that, striking out three straight.
South went ahead 1-0 in the third when Rachael Moore smashed a leadoff triple to right-center field and came home after a Grant throwing error presented the opportunity. The ball was overthrown to third base as Pat's older sister sprinted the basepaths.
"That was exciting," Gillaspie-Smith said. "It was a hustle play."
Hannah Newman finished 2-for-3 for the Panthers, who loaded the bases with one out in the first inning but couldn't capitalize.
Avoiding the play-in would have been favorable, Gillaspie-Smith said. But ultimately, she added, nobody gets a second chance at this point.
"You could be 25-0 or 0-25," she said. "It's one-and-done for everybody now, and that's something we've talked about this year. We put (the Crater losses) behind us and knew what we needed to accomplish.
"We fully embraced that attitude."
Grant 000 100 0 — 1 3 1
South Medford 001 001 x — 2 9 2
Quick and Hunt; P. Moore at Garrett. W — P. Moore (9-12). L — Quick. 2B — G: Muhle-Bruce; SM: P. Moore 2. 3B — SM: R. Moore.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt