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Coe, Goodell tabbed MVPs

Steph Coe began her varsity softball career with a bang.

Coe was North Medford's all-state designated hitter as the Black Tornado won 1998 Class 4A state championship.

The senior pitcher/designated hitter has remained an impact player for the Tornado and continues to receive accolades. She earned Southern Oregon Conference player-of-the-year recognition for the second time this spring, sharing the honor with Roseburg shortstop Erin Goodell.

"Steph was an absolute rock for our team," first-year coach Sara Barry says. "She was solid pitching, hitting and emotionally. She was our best competitor."

And in this season of transition when Barry replaced former national coach of the year Larry Binney, veteran leadership spurred the Tornado to its 17th SOC championship and seventh in a row.

"At the beginning of the year, all the girls were scared because of the coaching change," Coe admits. "But the team is so close now and the best part of being close is that we're having so much fun together. That's been the best part of this year."

Coe earned first-team honors as a pitcher and designated hitter. She compiled a 6-1 record in SOC play, allowing two earned runs in 46 innings for a microscopic 0.30 ERA. Coe struck out 62 and walked one.

"That one kept her from having a perfect game at Eagle Point," Barry recalls.

Coe hit .381 with three extra-base hits and had an on-base percentage of .489.

"I don't think I did too good of a job hitting," Coe says.

Perhaps, but few pitchers challenged her unless they had to.

"Sometimes," Barry says. "She didn't get a pitch to hit."

Coe still looks back to the 1998 season with satisfaction, partly because of the championship and partly because she got to play with her sister, Missy, a four-year starter and all-state catcher for the Tornado.

"My sister gave me so much confidence," Coe says. "I didn't think I would make the JV team that year, and I made varsity. I didn't think I was that good, but my sister built my confidence. When Larry (Binney) said I made varsity, I thought he was kidding. When we won state, it was that much better."

Coe is convinced the Tornado can put together a strong playoff run and maybe surpass what North did last year, when it fell to Redmond, 4-3, in the state quarterfinals.

"I always thought we could've made it further than we did," Coe says. "They were a good team, but it was kind of disappointing. I think everybody has the attitude we can go all the way."

Goodell had a stellar offensive campaign.

She hit .479, with 10 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. She signed a letter of intent earlier this spring to play with Oregon.

"She's probably the most competitive kid I've ever coached," says coach Craig Munion, who was named coach of the year. "She really gives it her all out there. She was a leader on the field. She's not the rah-rah type, but she led by example."

Munion has been part of the Roseburg program for 11 years, the past two as head coach.

The Indians finished one game behind North Medford in the standings and gained their first doubleheader split with the Tornado in four years. But another split - in a conference-opening twin bill with Ashland - cost Roseburg a share of first place

"We had our ups and downs," Munion says. "But our pitching and defense carried us this season. Our offense was sporadic. Sometimes we had it, sometimes we didn't. We had good leadership form our seniors and a few surprising sophomores."

Munion, 49, has battled health trouble in recent years, punctuated by heart bypass surgery last year. He was back in the hospital and missed two games in late April.

The team was handled then by assistants Ted Wilton and Tony Campos.

Coe, Goodell tabbed MVPs