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Coe delivers in North win

McNary pitcher Nichole Ivie's choice was fairly simple.

She could go after sophomore Steph Coe -- North Medford's single-season RBI record holder -- or senior Steph Adams -- a three-time all-state performer and one of the Black Tornado's best-ever hitters.

Ivie picked her poison, taking her chances against the sophomore in Friday's second-round Class 4A state softball playoff contest at Fagone Field.

Perhaps there was no escape. Coe delivered a two-run triple as No. 1-ranked North scored three times in the third and then held on for a 3-2 victory over the Valley League champs.

The victory propelled two-time defending state champion North into Monday's — p.m. quarterfinal against Barlow, a 2-1 winner over Hermiston, in Gresham. Third-ranked McNary finished the season 24-4.

I definitely didn't want to face Stephanie Adams with runners in scoring position, so I went for Steph Coe and she hit a triple, Ivie said. That's all there is to it.

McNary coach Jeff Auvinen figured Ivie was playing the experience card.

These kids have played against each other during the summer, Auvinen said. You know who hits you and who struggles. When their No. — hitter is a sophomore, I can agree with that decision.

The rugged right-hander averaged 10 strikeouts during the regular season and racked-up nine more in McNary's playoff opener. She stranded runners at second and third in the second inning, but allowed Jamie Ryder's double to left field to start the third. Kylie Allen's bunt single left runners at the corners. But Ivie struck out Megumi Hackett to bring up Coe.

North always has great hitters and great speed and a lot of power, Ivie said. That's a dangerous combination. I knew they had scouted me and I was throwing my best stuff (Tuesday) against Sheldon. I didn't throw much off-speed stuff. I just kept throwing riseball after riseball. It worked at times and not at others.

One of the nots was to the left-hand hitting Coe who belted the ball into the left-center field gap, scoring Ryder and Allen.

Adams singled off Ivie in the first inning, but fouled out to first this time, leaving courtesy runner Lu Crenshaw at third. Erin Glantz didn't leave Crenshaw there for long.

The senior catcher hit a towering shot down the left field line beyond Paula Stapley's reach. North coach Larry Binney, going for the jugular sent Glantz home. But Stapley's throw to shortstop Liz Copeland was on the money and Copeland's relay nailed Glantz by 25 feet.

I felt we could get up 4-0 and that extra run would break their backs, Binney said. But they made two perfect throws and executed exactly like you're supposed to.

Ivie singled to start the top of the fourth and rode home on Natalie Gardner's one-out double to left-center. North threatened in the fourth and sixth, but couldn't extend its lead.

Coe, meanwhile, mastered the bottom of McNary's batting order for six innings. No one outside the top four hitters had so much as reached base.

So when Coe, who struck out seven, retired Kelly Haws, Ivie and Niki Hayburst -- the 2-3-4 hitters -- in the sixth, the Tornado looked flush. But the final three outs were elusive.

They came out in the seventh inning and hit the ball, Glantz said. We just wanted to keep playing them as tough as possible.

Stapley lashed a one-out base hit up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch. Coe struck out designated hitter Keri Johnston for the second out. But pinch-hitter Carissa Kelly spanked a double down the left-field line, scoring Stapley. A second pinch-hitter, Lucy Atwood, reached on a bunt single to put runners on the corners.

We had a couple of freshmen (Stapley and Atwood) really step up there, Auvinen said. We had a couple of girls sitting on the bench for six innings that came in and got it done.

That brought Copeland, who had doubled in the third inning, to the plate. Coe got two quick strikes, Copeland fouled one off and then grounded to Adams at third.

I was just thinking `Catch the ball and throw the ball,' Adams said. I was trying to keep it simple. In every practice we go like we're one-run up with the winning run at the plate, the tying run at first and we need three outs. Because we do it every day in practice, we know we can do it out here.

North Medford coach Larry Binney admitted his pulse quickened when the Celtics had the tying run at third and the go-ahead at first.

It's always nice to know you have an at-bat left, Binney admitted. I'm certainly glad they didn't go ahead though.

The victory over one of the best teams in the 36-team playoff field sent North to the quarterfinals for the 11th time.

We didn't figure on this being a 10-run game, Adams said. We knew they had a lot of good hitters. We knew they could pitch well, but we wanted to put the ball in play and make them make mistakes.

And after committing five errors against Oregon City, the Black Tornado had none.

These girls have a tremendous amount of experience, Binney said. I like the way they competed today.

McNary .................000 100 — -- 2 7 — North Medford ......003 000 x -- — 7 0

Ivie and and Gardner; Coe and Glantz. W -- Coe (16-1). L -- Ivie (23-2). 2B -- Mc: Copeland, Kelly. NM: Ryder. 3B -- NM: Coe, Glantz.