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Comets come up clutch, beat Panthers

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Sease’s two-run single breaks 2-all tie as Crater edges South

On the back end of facing two straight opponents from the Southwest Conference, the Crater softball team ensured that there wouldn’t be a repeat from over the weekend Tuesday evening.

McKenna Sease had a two-run, two-out tiebreaking single in the bottom of the fifth inning and starting pitcher Alexis Perez was able to escape a pair of late jams as Crater held on for a 4-3 win over South Medford at Lithia & Driveway Fields.

“We talked about our plate approach a lot and just the confidence to carry to the plate being good hitters,” said Crater head coach Chris Arnold of the difference between Saturday’s doubleheader and this one. “I think we were a little tentative against Sheldon at the plate and came out with, really, a different plate approach in this one and a lot more confidence seemed to come from it. When you’re hitting the ball or the ball is put in play, it builds confidence.”

South Medford (8-2), ranked 10th in the Class 6A coaches poll, tied the game in the top of the fourth on a solo home run by Kirsten Morgan to straightaway center field.

There was originally some uncertainty on the call given the fact that there weren’t fences being used, instead cones set up around the outfield 210 feet away from home plate.

After a few seconds of Morgan standing on home plate, one of the umpires ruled that it did in fact go the necessary distance for a home run.

But come the fifth, the fourth-ranked Comets (7-5) took the lead again, with Sease shooting her lone hit of the day up the middle to give her team a 4-2 advantage.

“McKenna Sease is tough,” said Arnold. “She’s a tough out at the plate, she knows what she needs to do at the plate and there’s never a doubt in her mind that she’s going to be successful in that situation. When we’ve got runners in scoring position, she’s definitely one of the hitters we want at the plate. She gets it done.”

South cut Crater’s lead in half a half-inning later on Maddie Fullenwider’s RBI single up the middle, but Perez was able to keep the Comets in front by getting out of a jam with two runners on, including the potential game-tying run in scoring position.

The Panthers also got a runner on in the seventh, but Perez got out of it unscathed.

“South is a tough hitting lineup and, top to bottom, they’ve got some great hitters,” said Arnold. “Alexis is tough as well. She wants the ball in situations like that, and I think that’s the first step is not being afraid. She threw some pitches tonight that continue to amaze me with her ability to locate and give herself balance and throw a pitch we need in a certain situation.”

Fullenwider gave South a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a hard-hit RBI single into left. Crater, however, responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, tying the game when leadoff batter Kailee Davis scored all the way from first on a South throwing error, and then going ahead 2-1 on Kaylynn Wolchok’s RBI single to right-center.

“Worst game we’ve played this year,” said South head coach Shane Ramsay. “We didn’t pitch well, our baserunning was subpar and we made some defensive errors. Crater played well and they showed up to play.

“The hits that were given up were hit hard and (Crater) had the timely hits to produce their runs,” continued Ramsay. “They just executed better than we did and didn’t make the same baserunning mistakes we did.”

Davis was the lone Comet with multiple hits in the game, finishing 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

South pitchers Kacee Hudson and Jordan Knutson — who came in immediately after Sease’s big hit with two outs in the fifth — combined to strike out 10 Crater hitters. Hudson finished with seven of those strikeouts, including five in the first two innings.

Fullenwider finished 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, while Hudson was 2-for-3 and scored two runs.

“Hudson and Knutson struck out 10 of our batters, so there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Arnold. “Those are two great pitchers, so I tell the kids about the Sheldon games and this game that we’re going to see some of the state’s top pitchers — and that’s what we want. It’s a good opportunity to have some quality at-bats against quality pitching.”

South Medford1001010—382


Hudson, Knutson (5) and Hillyer; Perez and Reid. W — Perez (4-2). L — Hudson. 2B — SM: Hudson, Fullenwider; C: Kenworthy. HR — SM: Morgan.

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater's McKenna Sease connects for a go-ahead two-run single during the 5th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater's Alexis Perez delivers a pitch during the 3rd inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater's Alexis Perez delivers a pitch during the 7th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Kirsten Morgan (11) looks at the score board after hitting a homerun during the 4th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Kacee Hudson delivers a pitch during the 3rd inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Jordan Knutson runs in to make a catch for an out during the 4th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater's Kailee Davis catches South Medford's Maddie Fullenwider at 2nd base for a double play during the 4th inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford catcher Shelby Hillyer responds to a foul ball to make the catch for an out during the 3rd inning.