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West Salem slips past South Medford

There was a question if South Medford ace Pat Moore would be ready to start the Panthers’ Class 6A softball opening-round playoff game after suffering a leg injury 13 days earlier.

Moore, a fourth-year starter, took to the mound against West Salem in the playoff contest on Monday and pitched well, but Titans starter Taylor Redman was a little better.

After placing runners in scoring position in every inning but the first, West Salem eventually broke through in the seventh and registered a 1-0 victory over the Panthers at South Medford High.

West Salem, the No. 4 team from the Greater Valley Conference, advances to play top-seeded Oregon City on Wednesday. South Medford, the runner-up in the Southwest Conference, ends the season at 15-10.

Redman (17-8), a senior right-hander, handcuffed South Medford on three hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter.

“My rise was really working for me,” said Redman. “And I knew wherever they hit the ball, our defense was solid.”

Moore, who was part of South’s magical run to the state semifinals as a freshman, has been knocked out in the first round in two of the last three years. She pulled a muscle in her left leg in a game against North Medford on May 9, re-aggravating a prior injury, and hadn’t pitched since.

“I’ve been rehabbing since the injury and felt good today,” said Moore. “It was a blessing for the time off.”

The slender senior lefty struck out 11 and allowed just four hits but issued eight walks and had one hit batter.

“A lot of my pitches were up today,” said Moore. “When I got my rise in the right spot it was good. You have to mix it up and use everything.”

Moore’s control cost her in the seventh.

After retiring the first two West Salem batters, Moore walked Taylor Holmquist on a 3-2 count. On the first pitch to No. 4 hitter Nalani Muranaka, Holmquist stole second. After Muranaka walked, freshman shortstop Jennifer Ball hit a soft liner to left field to score the winning run.

“I just wanted to drive the ball — not do anything big,” said Ball, who belted a double to the bottom of the right field fence in the second inning. “I hit it with the inside of my bat and said, ‘Please fall, please fall.’”

South sophomore left-fielder Cassie Flemming broke late on the hit and the ball fell in at her feet, allowing Holmquist to scamper home.

“Jenn has been clutch for us all season,” said West Salem coach Ty Nicholson. “She’s a freshman but has a lot of confidence.”

Bailee Tatum singled through the right side with two out in the bottom of the seventh but was forced at second on a grounder by Ashley Wolfard to end the game.

Tatum had two of the Panthers’ three hits.

“We could have easily looked back at what could have been,” said Nicholson, whose team stranded 11 runners. “These girls battle. Moore throws hard enough that our girls just needed to get the bat on the ball. We cut our swings down trying to put the ball in play.”

On a hot Southern Oregon afternoon, Redman threw just 76 pitches. In three innings, she retired South Medford in order.

Shayna Woods, who opened the fourth inning with a single, was the only Panther to get into scoring position. Woods advanced to third with two out but Lanie Rodriguez struck out on three pitches to end the threat.

“That was a phenomenal game,” said Nicholson of Redman, who entered the game with a 2.80 ERA and 127 strikeouts. “It was one of the best pitched games I’ve been involved with and I’ve been coaching softball a long time.”

South Medford coach Miranda Gillaspie was also impressed with Redman: “She’s a little deceptive and has a little spin. We talked about making adjustments because we were chasing the up pitch.”

Gillaspie wasn’t certain if Moore would be able to make the playoff start.

“Pat battled hard the last week and a half to get ready, but we had different options if necessary,” said the coach. “(Moore) was consistent. She was attacking the inside corners.”

The Panthers were victim to a lack of offense, which has plagued them for much of the season.

“If you’re going to win games, you need to score runs,” said Gillaspie. “It’s the playoffs and everyone is bringing their best game. You can’t blink. It comes down to who will get one to fall.”

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it was West Salem.

West Salem;000;000;1;—;1;4;1

South Medford;000;000;0;—;0;3;2

Redman and King; Moore and Tatum. W — Redman (17-8). L — Moore (13-9). 2B — WS: Jen. Ball.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480 or fsilow@mailtribune.com