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Player of the Year Steph Adams was nearly unstoppable

Steph stepped it up for North

You look at the numbers Steph Adams posted her freshman softball season and wonder where she could go from there.

Three chart-busting springs later, Adams is nearly in a class by herself.

The 18-year-old North Medford third baseman started off with a .479 Southern Oregon Conference batting average as a freshman. She followed up the next two years with .431 and .420 campaigns before soaring to an astonishing .674 average in 1999.

Her on-base percentage of .786 meant she reached base nearly four out of five times she left the dugout.

The numbers that Steph has put up are mind-boggling, admits 18th-year North coach Larry Binney. I've never had anybody with those kind of numbers.

Adams' prodigious effort this spring earned her a unanimous player of the year vote from the SOC coaches last week.

She was one of seven North players to earn first-team honors, while Binney was voted coach of the year.

She wants to hit the ball hard every time she's up there, Binney says. She's done a remarkable job.

Adams is a rare four-time SOC first-team all-star. Roseburg senior shortstop Brynnen Guthrie earned first-team honors for the third year in a row. Adams and Guthrie have both signed letters of intent to play for Oregon State.

North senior shortstop Megumi Hackett -- last year's state and SOC player of the year -- senior center fielder Kylie Allen and sophomore designated hitter Steph Coe were repeat first-team choices.

Lest one subscribe to the theory that Adams fattened her average against lesser pitchers in the SOC, consider the following: Her overall marks, including at-bats against the state's best in the playoffs, merely enhance her position as the Tornado's best-ever hitter.

Adams' overall mark for 31 games was .375 in 1996. As a sophomore it was .380 in 31 games, and in 1998, it was .358 in 30 games. Entering this year's playoffs, she's batting .612 (52-for-85) in 26 games.

Barring a cold spell in the playoffs, Adams should easily surpass Nicole Milne's 1985 single-season record of .528. She's threatening Carrie Larson's 1984 slugging percentage record of .966 as well, accumulating 85 bases in 85 at-bats for a 1.000. Adams already has matched Kristy Syverson's 1982 single-season standard for times on base (71) and owns the hits mark (52).

In each of her previous three seasons, she has been a first-team all-state selection.

I wasn't expecting that honor at all my freshman year, Adams says. What helped keep that out of my mind was that my teammates got honors as well. They were better athletes than me. It really humbled me, kept my feet on the ground to work to be as good as they were.

From beginning to end, she has begun her day with a 7:30 a.m. speed development and weight-training class four days a week.

It was tough getting out of bed at first, she says. Then once I was in the class, I was surrounded by people wanting to improve themselves, and knew I wanted to be there.

She accepted assistant coach Rod Rumrey's challenge to try to reach or surpass the level she performed at last season.

I like to lead by example, Adams says. I don't want them to look at me and say I want to be like her statwise. I want them to improve from their freshman year to senior year.

If they are a .100 hitter, I want them to improve by 200 points, like Stephanie. That would be great.

Adams prefers sharing the credit for her success.

My freshman year, Missy Coe and Shelley Bruce were hitting in front of me, Adams says. I was a hidden secret because pitchers were happy to get through those two batters. They weren't expecting me, and I think I caught a lot of people by surprise.

My sophomore year, they pitched around me a little more. But I still had Missy and Shelley in front of me.

Binney says Adams' discipline has helped her draw a team-high 14 walks.

I've got good hitters behind me. Whether or not they put me on base, they still have to pitch to good hitters.

My coaches have told me that in every at-bat, a pitcher is going to make a mistake. I just try to capitalize on that one.

Some of her hardest shots weren't fair balls, and more than one car parked in the Fagone Field parking lot received a dent courtesy of Adams.

We changed to using the Dudley Thunder ball this year. That ball just rockets off the bat.

Rest assured, there are a lot of high school pitchers happy that her rockets will be launched elsewhere next year.

1999 SOC softball all-stars

— — FIRST — TEAM — — — Player, School, Year — Avg. — R — RBI — SB — OBP — — — C -- Erin Glantz, North Medford, Sr. — — .469 — 8 — 14 — 3 — .582 — — — C -- Val Lammon, Crater, Sr. — .326 — 9 — 4 — 3 — .340 — — — INF -- Steph Adams, North Medford, Sr. — — .674 — 25 — 22 — 8 — .786 — — — INF -- Megumi Hackett, North Medford, — Sr. — .617 — 32 — 3 — 23 — 690 — — — INF -- Brynnen Guthrie, Roseburg, Sr. — — .447 — 10 — 8 — 4 — .519 — — — INF -- Gracie Rowland-Dunn, Ashland, — Sr. — .442 — 8 — 7 — 5 — .542 — — — INF -- Addie Wiersma, Crater, Fr. — — .381 — 4 — 4 — 0 — .563 — — — OF -- Kylie Allen, North Medford, Sr. — — .519 — 21 — 6 — 12 — .579 — — — OF -- Keri Nelson, Roseburg, Jr. — .447 — 10 — 8 — 0 — .512 — — — OF -- Amy Sparks, Crater, Sr. — .333 — 7 — 5 — 10 — .431 — — — OF -- Jill Carrigan, North Medford, So. — — .432 — 11 — 13 — 8 — .521 — — — DH -- Steph Coe, North Medford, So. — — .489 — 15 — 29 — 4 — .527 — — — Pitchers — IP — W-L — ERA — SO — BB — — — Becky Walker, North Medford, Sr. — 39 — 7-0 — 0.00 — 32 — 7 — — — Steph Coe, North Medford, — So. — 48 — 7-0 — 0.43 — 41 — 9 — — — SECOND TEAM — — — Player, School, — Year — Avg. — RBI — HR — SB — OBP — — — C -- Cindy Josephson, — Eagle Point, Sr. — .429 — 5 — 6 — 0 — .444 — — — C -- Gabby Rathburn, — Grants Pass, Jr. — .304 — 6 — 8 — 2 — .372 — — — INF -- Alaina Corliss, — Eagle Point, Jr. — .362 — 13 — 3 — 2 — .694 — — — INF -- Allison Courter, — Roseburg, Sr. — .408 — 11 — 18 — 0 — .472 — — — INF -- Jenny Close, North — Medford, Sr. — .450 — 14 — 11 — 15 — .500 — — — INF -- Amy Williams, — Ashland, Jr. — .362 — 10 — 7 — 5 — .500 — — — INF -- Erin Goodell, — Roseburg, So. — .453 — 12 — 6 — 0 — .509 — — — OF -- Kelly Fullerton, — Roseburg, Sr. — .434 — 15 — 6 — 3 — .526 — — — OF -- Christina Cooley, — Ashland, Sr. — .333 — 6 — 6 — 9 — .500 — — — OF -- Stephanie Franklin, — Grants Pass, Fr. — .257 — 7 — 5 — 5 — .297 — — — OF -- Tamie Parker, — Klamath Union, Sr. — .413 — 10 — 8 — na — .451 — — — DH -- Emily Wiley, Crater, — Sr. — .462 — 4 — 4 — 0 — .563 — — — Pitchers — — IP — W-L — ERA — SO — BB — — — Molly Liston, Roseburg, — So. — 48 — 6-1 — 1.17 — 33 — 15 — — — Andrea Perdue, Crater, Jr. — — 59 1/3 — 6-4 — 1.77 — 40 — 9 — — —

HONORABLE MENTION

CATCHER -- Emily Clason, Ashland, Sr.; Brook Herring, South Medford, Sr.; Jessica Ball, Klamath Union, So.

INFIELD -- Mary Barbian, Grants Pass, Jr.; Alayna Petersen, Grants Pass, Jr.; Grace Fagan, Klamath Union, So.; Lindsay Hale, South Medford, Jr.; Laura Bowers, Crater, Sr.; Megan Robbins, Crater, Sr.; Jamie Ryder, North Medford, Sr.

OUTFIELD -- Leslie Bucher, South Medford, Sr.; Megan Humann, Ashland, Jr.

DESIGNATED HITTER -- Carrie Dougherty, Roseburg, So.

PITCHERS -- Becky Heater, Grants Pass, Sr.; Stacy Horn, Eagle Point, Sr.

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR -- Steph Adams, North Medford.

COACH OF THE YEAR -- Larry Binney, North Medford.

Photo from Mail Tribune files