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Adams' monstrous homer fuels North

Tornado trips Pioneers, 6-1

It was a game with a mighty hit and some misses too.

Top-ranked and two-time defending state champion North Medford defeated visiting Oregon City, 6-1, Tuesday afternoon to register its sixth straight Class 4A state playoff victory at Fagone Field.

What might be the most prodigious swing of the bat in Black Tornado history came on the same day that North played some of its most porous defense in a while. But North's trademark speed on the basepaths once again settled the issue as the Tornado advanced to a second-round match-up against Valley League champion McNary (24-3). The contest is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday at Fagone Field.

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Steph Adams (8) is — greeted by teammates after a towering, first-inning home run. — —

Southern Oregon Conference player of the year Steph Adams mashed a towering drive to dead center, clearing the 8-foot high fence 240 feet from the plate by 10 feet to stake North Medford (26-1) to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The homer was Adams' third of the season and her ninth career clout. It was the first time in 20 years of girls games at Fagone Field that a ball has left the park.

I've never seen anything like that, marveled Oregon City senior right-hander Morgan McCarthy. She's an awesome hitter. I didn't know where her power zone was, but I knew after that. I should've put it up and inside against her, but it was pretty much down the middle.

The smash came with two out. Kylie Allen started the inning by doubling down the left-field line and taking third on Megumi Hackett's sacrifice bunt. McCarthy proceeded to strike out Steph Coe to bring up Adams.

McCarthy got ahead in the count, before Adams rocketed a 2-2 delivery into the wind.

She made a mistake and tubed it, Adams said. I must've got the bat on the sweet spot of the ball, because it felt like I was cutting into air.

She took no time to admire the shot and was high-tailing it toward second when she saw Oregon City center fielder Rebekah Lamarr pull up short of the fence.

I saw her stop and then I saw the ball bouncing, Adams said. I've had a lot of hits that have bounced out there or hit the fence. That's why I kept running.'

The home run trot didn't come so easy.

I was amazed by it, but then I realized I had to touch every base.

McCarthy managed to get Adams out in the third and fifth innings. But the Pioneers had no answer for the Tornado in the fourth as North put the game away with four runs, including three with two out.

Jenny Close singled, moved to second on an error and stole third. Jill Carrigan followed with a sacrifice fly to center field. The insurance run would've been enough, but coach Larry Binney's teams have a penchant for storming through the slightest defensive cracks.

Haley Varley followed with a single and pinch-runner Lu Crenshaw immediately stole second base. Jamie Ryder looped a double down the left-field line, scoring Crenshaw.

Kylie Allen followed with a perfect bunt that died 10 feet from the plate for a base hit, allowing Tina Quintero (running for Ryder) to take third. Oregon City second baseman Stephanie Main tried to get Quintero at third when she rounded the bag. But that only served to give Allen time to scamper to second, drawing a throw, while Quintero advanced home.

Hackett then doubled to left to score Allen.

We definitely killed ourselves that inning, Oregon City coach Sara Barry said. There was no reason to throw the ball around in that spot. Their left-hand slappers -- Megumi and Kylie -- are plain fast and we helped them out. That's all it takes in a game like this.

While Oregon City (14-15) paid dearly for mental miscues, the Tornado avoided great harm from five errors. Two errors led to the Pioneers' lone run in the seventh inning.

We cannot give people five extra outs, Binney said. That just gives somebody the opportunity to capitalize on your mistakes. We're better than that, we've just got to learn from our mistakes.

The Tornado will have less room for error against McNary, a 2-0 winner over Sheldon. The Celtics have ridden senior right-hander Nicole Ivie's overpowering right arm to their best performance since gaining a share of the 1990 state title.

Ivie was player of the year in the Valley League, averaging 10 strikeouts per game. She struck out nine Tuesday.

Oregon City .................000 000 — -- — 1 2 North Medford .............200 400 x -- 6 9 5

McCarthy and Bushnell; Coe, Walker (7) and Glantz. WP -- Coe (15-1). LP -- McCarthy (12-6). 2B -- NM: Allen, Ryder, Hackett. HR -- NM: Adams (3).

Jamie Ryder, right, dives back into third base. Ryder then jumped up and scored after Oregon City's relay to second base was wild. - Photo by Bob Pennell