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North to play for Class 6A crown

The North Medford softball team had some long, disappointing bus rides home after playoff loses to Jesuit and South Salem the previous two years.

The Black Tornado had another extended ride home from the northern portion of the state Tuesday, but this one was a lot more pleasant.

The Black Tornado used solid pitching by Taylor Schmidt and timely hitting to pull a 3-2 road upset against McMinnville in the Class 6A semifinals.

North Medford (25-5) returns to the state championship game for the first time since winning the title in 2002. The Black Tornado will face Sunset, a 1-0 winner over South Salem, at the OSU Softball Complex on Saturday. The time of the game has not yet been determined.

"Those were rough rides home after playoff loses," North Medford fourth-year coach Mike Mayben said. "Winning makes the drive home a whole lot sweeter."

The Black Tornado held a 1-0 lead after six innings on Taylor Schmidt's RBI double that scored McKenna Storey in the fourth inning.

It appeared North had clinched the victory when it bunched three of its six hits together in the seventh to score twice more.

Tejay Schmidt opened the inning with a single to center and was sacrificed to second by Hannah Leming. Kelsey Leming followed with an RBI double into right-center field, scoring pinch-runner Sierra Berryessa.

Kelsey Leming moved to third on Brittany Griffor's ground out. Then No. 9 hitter Amanda Freitas delivered what turned out to be the game-winning RBI with a two-out single.

"You're in a pressure situation, only up 1-0," Mayben said, "and there you are with the bottom of the lineup in a win-or-go-home game. When the bottom of your lineup gets clutch hits, that's extremely important."

As it turned out, Taylor Schmidt needed those two insurance runs.

She struck out McMinnville's leadoff batter in the seventh but hit opposing pitcher Anna Bertrand. Then No. 1 hitter Bailee Niehus, who already had a single and double, belted a home run over the left-field fence to close the gap to 3-2.

Taylor Schmidt regrouped to get a ground out and fly ball to Storey in center to end the game.

"(Taylor Schmidt) allowed her defense to make outs," said Mayben. "The kids made the plays and made them look routine."

Schmidt (24-5) struck out seven, walked three, hit one batter and allowed six hits.

"Her game plan was to pitch away," said Mayben, "and when she came in, she came in up and hard. She had good command of her pitches."

McMinnville (25-5) threatened three different times, but on each occasion Schmidt got a strikeout to end the inning.

In the first, the Grizzlies had runners on first and third with one out and attempted a double steal. But junior shortstop Jenna Stevens came up on the throw to second and gunned down Niehus at the plate.

"Stevens made a heads up play," said Mayben. "When she saw the runner break from third she took the throw in front of second and fired home."

With the bases loaded in the fourth, the senior pitcher struck out pinch hitter Kaitlyn McClendon to get out of the jam.

Niehus doubled and went to third on a throwing error with one out in the fifth. Taylor Schmidt retired the next batter herself on an infield popup, and after an intentional walk, struck out Kali Reesser.

"We've played with more confidence than we had all year so far in the playoffs," said Mayben. "We just needed to get the ball bouncing our way once or twice and get the clutch hits. We knew we could compete with anybody."

North Medford 000 100 2 — 3 6 1

McMinnville 000 000 2 — 2 6 1

Ta. Schmidt and Wolfe; Bertrand and Reesser. W — Ta. Schmidt (24-5). L — Bertrand. 2B — NM: Ta. Schmidt, K. Leming; M: Niehus. HR — M: Niehus.

Class 4A Softball

HENLEY 3, SUTHERLIN 2, 5 inn. — At Sutherlin, No. 2-ranked Henley edged sixth-ranked Sutherlin in a game that was stopped with one out in the top of the sixth inning due to rain and lightning.

Henley (21-6) will get a rematch with top-ranked Marist (28-1) in the state championship game Saturday at the OSU Softball Complex in Corvallis. The Spartans routed Gladstone 11-1 in Tuesday's other semifinal.

Henley lost 1-0 to Marist in 10 innings in last year's state final.

Junior right-hander Autumn Wedan allowed four hits with eight strikeouts and four walks in five innings to earn the win for the Hornets.

Elise Goodell and Mariah Mahon each went 2-for-3 for Henley.

Wedan put her team up 2-1 in the top of the third with a sacrifice fly and Goodell beat out a chopper in front of Sutherlin (22-3) pitcher Mikayla Mendenhall to score Mahon and make it 3-1 in the fourth.

Henley 101 10 — 3 7 1

Sutherlin 100 10 — 2 4 2

Wedan and Davis; Mendenhall and Bennett. W — Wedan. L — Mendenhall.

Class 6A Baseball

WILSON AT ROSEBURG, ppd. — Wilson built a 5-1 lead through its at-bat in the fourth inning before heavy winds, rain and lightning washed out the game at Legion Field after a lengthy delay.

The teams will try to get the game in again at noon today in Roseburg. OSAA playoff rules dictate that the game must start over from the beginning and all of Tuesday's numbers erased.

Prior to the severe storm, the teams combined for five errors. Dakota Cavens got the start for Roseburg but was replaced in the second inning by Brandon Jackson, while Stuart Fewel pitched the first three innings for Wilson.

Class 4A Baseball

SEMIFINALS POSTPONED — Third-ranked Hidden Valley and top-ranked Astoria didn't make it past warm-ups Tuesday before their semifinal matchup at Agnew-Lytle Field in Grants Pass was postponed to today at noon.

The other semifinal, No. 4 Baker at Henley, also was postponed by rain and lightning and is scheduled again for 11 a.m. today.