Black Tornado bags another perfect year
Moments after North Medford centerfielder Kylie Allen put the squeeze on a fly ball for the final out, third baseman Steph Adams gave Allen a hug and roared: Undefeated, we're undefeated.
With an 11-4, 6-0 sweep of Crater Saturday afternoon at Fagone Field, North finished the 1999 Southern Oregon Conference softball campaign with a 14-0 record. It was the third time in four seasons the top-ranked Black Tornado (24-1) has whirled through the conference unbeaten.
The big thing has been our desire to win, Allen said. We don't like to lose.
The means to the end weren't the most picture-perfect. But after Friday night's prom and the accompanying disruptions, North coach Larry Binney settled for results over style.
These kids have played a lot of softball and know what it takes to win, Binney said. Crater is a very good team and we weren't taking them lightly. First of all, we wanted to make sure we weren't going to have to share the conference title with Roseburg and then going undefeated is not an easy thing to do.
It might not necessarily be easy, but the Tornado has made a habit of it with Adams, Allen, Jenny Close, Erin Glantz and Megumi Hackett in the lineup. In the four seasons that group has been together, North has gone 59-2 in conference. The Tornado's last loss was a 5-3 setback to Roseburg in the first game of a doubleheader on May 3, 1997. North rebounded with a 6-1 victory and has now reeled off 32 straight SOC wins.
The two-time defending state champions backed pitcher Step Coe (13-1) with a 17-hit onslaught in the opener then got a four-hit shutout from Becky Walker (11-0) in the nightcap.
In the opener, Adams' triple highlighted a three-run first-inning. Then the Tornado reeled off six straight base hits to push its lead to 8-0 in the second inning.
Once they're up 8-0, you're pretty limited to what you can do, Crater coach Mike Meunier said. We gave them too many outs. You get a chance to get one of these girls out, you gotta take it, because they won't give you a second one.
North endured a scary moment in the sixth inning when Crater's Emily Wiley lined a base hit off Coe, just above the right knee. Although Coe had an ice pack wrapped around her knee between games, she continued in her usual Game 2 role of designated hitter.
In that game, North picked up single runs in each of the first three innings then put it away with three runs in the fifth.
The Tornado could have put up bigger numbers, but hampered itself with base-running mistakes.
We let up a little, but all we can do is learn and get better from it, Adams said. We weren't going to be satisfied with anything less than winning twice. So there was no way that we were going to let up -- intentionally.
Walker kept the Comets at bay with six strikeouts, six ground outs and four pop-ups.
The two biggest pop-ups came in the top of the fifth when Crater loaded the bases on two base hits and an error. Walker got Rachel Hernandez to pop-up to Jamie Ryder at second base and escaped damage when pinch-hitter Becky Arreola popped up to Hackett behind third base.
Pop-up, pop-up, Meunier said. That was it right there. We had the opportunity and we couldn't cash in.
Crater will play host to Grants Pass Tuesday afternoon in a playoff to determine the SOC's third and fourth entries into the Class 4A playoffs that begin Friday.
North has now captured five straight SOC crowns and has won or shared nine of the past 10 conference titles.
Along with the team accomplishments have come individual achievements. Adams' 4-for-5 afternoon gave her 51 hits for the spring and moved her to the top of the Tornado's career single-season mark. The old mark of 49 was jointly held by Hackett (1998) and Angie Jacobs (1984). Her 10th and 11th doubles moved her into a single-season tie with Missy Coe for doubles and her 31 two-baggers are a career record, as are her 119 RBIs.
Hackett scored five runs Saturday, giving her 49 for the season and passing Kris Anderson's 1983 standard of 47. Hackett had four more stolen bases to boost her single-season mark to 36 and career record to 199.
Steph Coe had four RBIs to move into a single-season tie with Terri Walker, who drove in 44 runs in 1982.
I didn't think Anderson or Walker's records were ever going to be broken, Binney said.
The current group's records may last a long, long time.
Crater .....................000 201 — -- 4 8 — North Medford .....350 201 x -- 11 17 4
Perdue and Lammon; Coe and Glantz. W -- Coe (13-1). L -- Perdue (11-6). 2B -- C: Ray. NM: Allen, Adams. 3B -- NM: Adams.
Crater ....................000 000 0 -- 0 4 4 North Medford .......111 030 x -- 6 7 3
Perry and Lammon; Walker and Glantz. W -- Walker (11-0). L -- Perry. 2B -- NM: Allen, Close, Carrigan, Adams.