Thomas pitches North into state quarters
After surrendering a first-inning run to West Linn in the second round of the Class 6A softball state playoffs, senior pitcher Sarah Thomas blanked the Lions the rest of the way and North Medford came away with a 7-1 home victory Wednesday.
The No. 3-seeded Black Tornado (26-2) will host a quarterfinal-round game at 4:30 p.m. Friday against McMinnville (17-12), the third-place team from the Greater Valley Conference. North Medford was knocked out in the second round of the playoffs last year by McNary, 12-2.
“I was impressed with the resiliency of our kids,” said North Medford coach Mike Mayben. “We stayed composed and battled back.”
West Linn (17-11) jumped in front when Hannah Siciliani was hit by a pitch and No. 4 hitter Devinne Amesquita smacked a two-out RBI triple.
The Lions’ only other hit came on a one-out double in the third inning by Kaitlin Lampson.
Thomas (22-2) struck out 11 and walked none.
“(Thomas) was the same as she’s been all season, very consistent,” said Mayben. “She controlled the game. She didn’t lose her focus and stayed with the game plan.”
The Black Tornado took the lead with two runs in the third. Alex Barry opened with a groundball single and was sacrificed to second by Olivia Lethlean. Taelor Mayben followed with the second of her four hits and the junior third baseman moved to second on a steal. With runners on second and third, Tra Kucera laid down a squeeze bunt that brought Barry home. Mayben also scored on the play when the ball got away from cather Amesquita.
North broke the game open with five runs in the sixth. The Black Tornado did the damage with four hits, a hit batter and an error. A clutch two-out, two-run double by Lethlean followed by Mayben’s two-run single highlighted the rally.
North Medford’s 11-hit attack was sparked by Mayben’s 4-for-4 performance and Barry went 3-for-3 from the bottom of the lineup.
“We put a whole bunch of hits together in the third and sixth, that was important,” said the Black Tornado 11th-year coach. “It’s the playoffs, you do what you have to do to move on.”
McMinnville has definitely echoed that sentiment, upsetting sixth-seeded Tualatin, 4-1, in Monday’s first round before topping 11th-seeded Tigard, 11-0 in six innings, on Wednesday.
Von Ahn and Amesquita; Thomas and Kucera. W — Thomas (22-2); L — Von Ahn. 2B — WL; Lampson; NM: Lethlean, Miles; 3B — WL: Amesquita.
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or email email@example.com