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With the way the South Medford softball team has performed of late, unwavering and finding ways in critical situations, one might never guess the Panthers have a losing record.
The Panthers, however, are 4-0 in elimination games since being swept by Crater in their Southern Oregon Hybrid finale doubleheader. And after Thursday's second-round playoff game at Roseburg, South Medford has landed in territory that no team in program history has ever ventured: the Class 6A quarterfinals.
The Panthers used a costly error by the Indians to score three runs in the top of the fifth inning and freshman pitcher Pat Moore closed out another tense seventh inning in yet another huge road victory in a 5-4 decision at Roseburg High School.
The Panthers (12-13) hope to keep their momentum going against Glencoe today at 4:30 p.m. for a chance to play in the semifinals. South's game against Roseburg (13-13) was originally slated for Wednesday but was postponed due to weather.
Clinging to a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh, Moore and the Panthers faced an immediate threat when Jessa Perkinson tripled down the left field line to lead off the frame. After inducing a fly ball out, Moore walked Kyndle DelCollo, who stole second base to put the go-ahead run on second base.
Moore responded by recording the final two outs herself — Ashley Martin with a strikeout, then induced Mariessa Robles to pop out to seal the victory.
"You think 'just one base hit and that's the ball game,'" said South coach Miranda Gillespie-Smith. "To come back and get a huge strike out and another one against a couple of their best hitters and with one of their quickest kids standing on third, I mean, it was a huge out."
After South Medford had relinquished its 2-0 lead by giving up three runs in the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers managed to load the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth.
The Panthers' Sara Gartlan, who was hit by a pitch but was called for leaning over home plate which, by rule, did not allow Gartlan to advance to first base, turned out to be the turning point in the game for the Panthers who faced a two-run deficit.
Gartlan returned to the plate and hit a grounder to the pitcher Martin, who turned and threw to first base. The throw hit the ground and ricocheted off the first baseman's glove and skipped away. Because the Indians right fielder was retreating to the fence during the play, all three Panthers scored and South gained a 5-3 lead.
"It was just a great day for us," said Gillespie-Smith. "We've just got to keep the momentum going again today. We just have to get home, get to bed and do the whole thing again. That's what the playoffs are all about."
Tia Garrett put the Panthers up 2-0 in the top of the third by coming up with a one-out, two-run single to right field that scored both Moore and Brittany Miller. Garrett finished 2-for-4.
Moore allowed four runs on nine hits, four walks and fanned nine. Her counterpart, Martin, also went all seven innings, yielding five runs — three earned — on four hits, six walks and also struck out nine.
Robles and Bailey Daniels each went 2-for-3 and scored a run for the Indians, who lost three of four contests against the Panthers.
South Medford 002 030 0 — 5 4 1
Roseburg 000 301 0 — 4 9 3
P. Moore and Garrett; Martin and Conklin. W — P. Moore (12-12). L — Martin. 2B — R: Conklin, Delcotto. 3B — R: Perkinson.