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Circling back

After serving as North Medford’s starting shortstop the past two seasons, junior Rylan Austin has moved a little closer to the plate for 2017.

Standing inside the circle now at pitcher, Austin has continued to make a big impact for the Black Tornado softball team, leading North Medford to a pair of victories Monday to open the North Medford Spring Break Invitational at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

Austin was instrumental in quieting the Franklin bats in a 10-0, five-inning win to open the tourney, then returned to keep South Salem at bay for a 12-4 triumph as North Medford improved to 5-0 overall.

“She’s relearning how to be a pitcher and today she really stepped up,” said Black Tornado head coach Mike Mayben, noting Austin was a pitcher in her youth softball days.

North’s wins were two of the 29 games played at U.S. Cellular in the 30-team tournament on Monday. The Black Tornado had been host to the event for two decades before stepping back when the Southwest Conference went to a 21-game conference schedule in 2014. When Thurston moved to the Class 5A level to free up more nonleague games this year, Mayben and company were happy to resume hosting duties they had passed on to the City of Medford.

The two-day event resumes today at 8 a.m., with final games slated to start at 6 p.m.

Against Franklin (2-3), Austin allowed two hits with two strikeouts in three scoreless innings before giving way to junior Monique Kruse, who pitched two hitless innings of relief. Against South Salem (3-2), Austin allowed four hits and no earned runs with 10 strikeouts and one walk in a complete-game effort.

“She just threw really well today,” said Mayben. “Her ball movement and location of where we want her to throw it are the biggest things for her and she did both really well today.”

North Medford broke the game open against Franklin with a six-run second inning fueled by doubles from Courtney Williams, Alex Barry and Taelor Mayben. Jordan Neathamer, Lauren Barry and Olivia Lethlean also drove in runs as the Black Tornado batted around.

Lauren Barry finished 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBIs, while Lethlean was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Williams and Ashley Ripplinger each went 2-for-3 for a North offense that had 13 hits overall.

A four-run fourth inning put North Medford in the driver’s seat against South Salem, and the Tornado tacked on a six-run seventh inning for good measure. Danyelle Milam supplied a three-run hit in the seventh to go with an RBI triple in the fourth and finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs.

Also against the Saxons, Austin went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Alex Barry 1-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, Neathamer 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI and Mayben scored three times.

South Salem scored three of its runs in the bottom of the seventh on a three-run home run by Maygen McGrath.

Franklin;000;00;—;0;2;5

North Medford;162;1x;—;10;13;0

S. Brauckmiller and M. Brauckmiller; Austin, Kruse (4) and Milam, Smalley (4). W — Austin (4-0). L — S. Brauckmiller. 2B — NM: A. Barry, Mayben, Williams.

North Medford;101;400;6;—;12;13;4

South Salem;000;001;3;—;4;4;1

Austin and Milam; McGrath and Fox. W — Austin (5-0). L — McGrath. 2B — NM: Austin, Smalley; SS: McGrath. 3B — NM: Milam. HR — SS: McGrath.

SOUTH MEDFORD WINS TWO: South Medford pitcher Pat Moore combined for 35 strikeouts, eight walks and four hits allowed as the Panthers gained a 10-0, six-inning win over Newberg and a 5-4, nine-inning win over Thurston.

Moore was also 8-for-9 with three runs and four RBIs in the sweep for South Medford (3-0).

Against Thurston, Lanie Rodriguez had a two-out single in the top of the seventh and, after a passed ball, scored the tying run on a single by Moore to force extra innings. In the ninth with Gaby Garcia on second base under international tiebreaker rules, Rodriguez and Moore supplied back-to-back RBI doubles for the go-ahead runs.

Makalyn Mason managed a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the ninth for Thurston but was stranded at second base after Moore secured her 20th strikeout.

Jewel Burgoyne-Russell was 1-for-3 with one run and three RBIs against Newberg. Against Thurston, Rodriguez was 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI, Jaden Alexander 2-for-5 with one RBI and Shayna Woods 2-for-4.

Newberg;000;000;—;0;0;4

South Medford;700;021;—;10;7;1

Lemonds and King-Oyler; Moore and Tatum. W — Moore (2-0). L — Lemonds. 2B — SM: Burgoyne-Russell, Moore, Alexander.

South Medford;100;010;102;—;5;7;3

Thurston;010;020;001;—;4;4;0

Moore and Tatum; Stout and Schmidt. W — Moore (3-0). L — Stout. 2B — SM: Rodriguez, Garcia, Moore; T: Mason. HR — T: Dolbin.

GRANTS PASS SWEEPS: Alyssa Etheridge combined to go 4-for-7 with three runs and four RBIs as Grants Pass earned an 8-7 win over Barlow and a 9-2 win over West Salem.

Against Barlow, Etheridge had a two-run home run and finished 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs, and Maddie Naylor added a two-run double in the second inning for the Cavers (5-2).

Against West Salem, Etheridge had an RBI triple in a three-run third inning, and Brooklyn Hurd went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. Marissa Eilenberger was 2-for-3 with one run and two RBIs for GP.

Barlow;201;000;4;—;7;8;1

Grants Pass;040;030;1;—;8;10;1

Pierce, Beany (5) and Gernbout; Etheridge and Kuykendall. W — Etheridge. L — Pierce. 2B — B: Osgarden, Bailey; GP: Naylor. 3B — GP: Padgett. HR — GP: Etheridge.

Grants Pass;103;320;0;—;9;12;0

West Salem;010;010;0;—;2;5;2

Padgett and Hurd; Tallan and Sandvig. W — Padgett. L — Tallan. 2B — GP: Kuykendall, Hurd. 3B — GP: Etheridge.

EAGLE POINT 17, TILLAMOOK 1, 5 inn.: Megan Ayres drove in four runs on two hits, including her third home run of the year, and scored three times to help Eagle Point to a rout at U.S Cellular.

Freshman Riley Shopp added three RBIs and three runs scored for the Eagles (3-0), and also struck out nine with no walks and five hits allowed to earn the pitching win.

Gillian Willis and Samantha Thompson also had two hits for EP.

Tillamook;001;00;—;1;5;1

Eagle Point;(11)51;0x;—;17;12;0

Vogel, Crabtree (2) and Johnson; Shopp and S. Thompson, C. Thompson (5). W — Shopp (1-0). L — Vogel. 2B — EP: Willis. 3B — EP: S. Thompson, Ayres. HR — EP: Ayres (3).

PHOENIX DROPS TWO: Phoenix (0-2) fell to Burney, California, 18-14, and Santiam Christian, 16-5 in five innings.

Against Burney, the Pirates allowed eight runs in the third inning. Phoenix’s Halie Bowman was 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, and Claire Mathewson was 3-for-5 with a run and RBI.

Against Santiam Christian, the Pirates’ Mathewson was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Tiona Hurd was 2-for-3 with a run.

Burney;318;301;2;—;18;10;2

Phoenix;113;034;2;—;14;15;1

Luntey and Bennett; Mathewson and Bowman. W — Luntey. L — Mathewson (0-1). 2B — P: Kentner, Bowman.

Phoenix;020;12;—;5;8;1

Santiam Christian;165;4x;—;16;9;1

Truex and Bowman; Boraff and Risineg. W — Boraff. L — Truex (0-1). 2B — P: Hurd, Mathewson.

North Medford High junior Rylan Austin delivers a pitch against Franklin on the opening day of the North Medford Spring Break Invitational at U.S. Cellular Community Park on Monday. The Black Tornado won, 10-0. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE]
North Medford High junior Alex Berry races toward home plate against Franklin in the Black Tornado's first game of the North Medford Spring Break Invitational Monday. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE]