When you’re on a winning team, it’s easy to maintain your competitive spirit.
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TUALATIN — With each inning that passed, the South Medford Panthers softball team grew more headstrong and savvy, which seemed to wear on their third-ranked opponent.
And freshman pitcher Pat Moore, who had a no-hitter going until the eighth inning, got better too, even on the road and into the 11th inning where everything culminated for the Panthers in the form of a five-run eruption. South used that big 11th inning to pull off the upset of Tualatin, 5-1, in the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs at Tualatin High School.
The Panthers (11-13) will square off against Roseburg (13-12) in the second round on Wednesday. The Panthers beat Roseburg in two of three Southern Oregon Hybrid meetings this season.
Moore struck out the side in the seventh — sending the scoreless game into extra innings — and in the ninth, after an eighth inning where Tualatin had three straight one-out singles to load the bases.
But Moore kept the Timberwolves (20-7) off the scoreboard again by inducing consecutive pop-outs to second and first base, swinging the momentum to the Panthers, who entered the game ranked 30th in the RPI.
"She was just fantastic today," said Panthers coach Miranda Gillespie-Smith of Moore. "We stayed together and truly, we got stronger as the game went on. We definitely competed all the way through 11 (innings)."
Moore's only blemish came in the bottom of the 11th when she gave up a run on a sacrifice fly. That, however, came after the Panthers had built a 5-0 lead in the top half of the frame. Moore got the game's final out via strikeout.
The Panthers smacked out five straight, one-out hits to begin the top of the 11th, resulting in five runs. Brittany Miller, Rachel Moore and Hannah Newman all had RBI singles and Sara Gartlan capped the frame with a two-run single that put the Panthers up 5-0.
"The hitting was contagious, then we finally got one across," said Gillespie-Smith. "We'd been waiting for the big, clutch hits. It was more than we could have asked for."
Moore went all 11 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks. She also fanned 14.
Moore's counterpart, Emily Sorem, was outstanding as well. She didn't allow a Panther hit until the sixth inning and finished with 17 strikeouts.
Miller went 3-for-5 while Rachael Moore and Tia Garrett both had two hits.
South Medford 000 000 000 05 — 5 9 2
Tualatin 000 000 000 01 — 1 4 2
P. Moore and Garrett; Sorem and Miller. W — P. Moore (11-12). L — Sorem.
GRANTS PASS 9, GRESHAM 1 — At Grants Pass, Grants Pass broke open the first-round Class 6A state playoff game in the fourth inning with four runs on five hits, including a two-run single by Danielle Taylor and RBI singles by Halee Rose and Nicole Godwin.
Amy Robinson tossed a five-hitter with 11 strikeouts and one walk for the Cavers (19-7).
Taylor went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Rose 3-for-4 with two runs scored, Godwin 2-for-4 with three runs and Dalenna Bellum 2-for-3 with two runs against Gresham (13-12).
Gresham 000 100 0 — 1 5 0
Grants Pass 002 412 x — 9 14 2
Smith and Gibbons; Robinson and Stevens. W — Robinson. L — Smith. 2B — GP: Lenard. 3B — GP: Thomas.
SOUTH MEDFORD 5, BARLOW 4 — Nate Walker's two-run double in the bottom of the fifth put South Medford out in front and pitcher Caleb Newman negated Barlow's seventh-inning scoring threat at Harry & David Field to get the Panthers into the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, where they'll face North Medford.
The Panthers (16-10), who were swept by the Black Tornado in a three-game Southern Oregon Hybrid series, will try to change the trend Wednesday at North Medford.
Walker's go-ahead hit was a two-out double off a 1-2 fastball that was laced to left field to plate both Cole Carder and Jimmy Sporer.
The Bruins (16-12) had jumped out to a 4-3 lead in the top of the third inning but Newman responded by retiring the next 10 Barlow batters until Michael Smith doubled to lead off the top of the seventh inning.
Smith, who represented the Bruins' tying run after Walker put the Panthers ahead 5-4 in the fifth, advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt. But with one out, Newman struck out Barlow's Kyle Riske and leadoff man Josh Ordway to strand Smith at third and claim the win the first-round contest.
Newman went all seven innings, yielding four runs — three earned — on seven hits, zero walks. He struck out five to improve to 7-4 on the season.
Walker finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Sporer was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Bruins' Houston Tom went 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored.
Barlow 112 000 0 — 4 7 3
South Medford 300 020 x — 5 8 1
Simmons and Smith; Newman and White. W — Newman (7-4). L — Simmons. 2B — B: Myers, Tom, Smith; SM: Sporer, Walker. 3B — B: Riepma.