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PREP SOFTBALL: Morgan lifts Panthers over GP in 10th

South Medford junior shortstop Kirsten Morgan made the play of the day on defense and then supplied the heroics on offense to lead the Panthers to a dramatic 1-0 win in 10 innings over visiting Grants Pass on Tuesday.

The battle of Southwest Conference softball leaders — South and GP entered tied with Sheldon for first place at 5-1 — lived up to its billing as each team came up big defensively to thwart the other through regulation and beyond.

“There was some great defense in that game on both sides,” said Panthers coach Shane Ramsay. “Their kids made some really good plays off of some hits I thought we had off the bat that they scooped up and I couldn’t believe it. They’re tough.”

Morgan, thankfully for South, proved equally as tough.

With Grants Pass starting with a runner on second base in Ashley Falk, Panthers pitcher Kaycee Hudson was able to record her 14th strikeout of the game before Alex Hook hit a shallow pop-up between Hudson and a charging Morgan that the shortstop was able to pick clean and fire to first for an out.

“That was a huge play ... huge,” said Ramsay. “If she doesn’t make that, it was going to put (Alexa Medley) back at the plate and she is one of the toughest outs in the conference and probably is the fastest kid in the conference.”

Instead, Hudson was able to induce Reagan Bruner into an inning-ending groundout to second base to keep the leadoff batter in the on-deck circle. Medley had two of GP’s three hits in the game.

In the bottom of the 10th, June Woster started at second as part of the extra-inning tiebreaker rules and Morgan didn’t make her wait there long as she drove a pitch from Sarah Martin deep into right-center. Woster initially held up to tag on the liner but once it escaped the reach of ranging center fielder Atianna Vainuku-Johnson, it was clear sailing for the winning run as the ball made it to the fence and Morgan wound up with a game-ending double.

“I was glad to have her up,” Ramsay said of starting the 10th with Morgan at the plate. “She was the kid I was wanting to have there in that position. The center fielder looked like she migt have had a chance for it but it just kept carrying and outreached her and worked out.”

It was only the third hit allowed by Martin in what was a pitcher’s duel in differing ways. While Hudson had double-digit strikeouts with three walks in her three-hitter, Martin had only one strikeout with no walks.

“Sarah did a heckuva job,” said Ramsay of the senior. “She kept the ball down and we just kept grounding out over and over.”

“Kaycee was pretty in control there,” added the coach. “For 10 innings, that’s a tough order because their lineup is tough. She did a really good job.”

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Martin and Harry; Hudson and Hillyer. W — Hudson. L — Martin. 2B — GP: Vainuku-Johnson; SM: Morgan.

NORTH MEDFORD 9, SOUTH EUGENE 1: At Eugene, North Medford’s Alyssa Hartzheim tossed five shutout innings and helped her own cause at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs as the Black Tornado snapped a four-game skid in the Southwest Conference.

Samara Miles scored three times, drove in a run and all three of her hits were doubles for North Medford (9-8, 3-4 SWC), which scored four runs in the top of the sixth and three more in the seventh to pull away.

Hartzheim registered seven strikeouts, scattered seven hits and did not issue a walk.

Alexis Wadley finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and stole a pair of bases for the Black Tornado, while Gabbi Urban provided an RBI double and two runs scored. Rhyan Hamlin also scored twice.

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Hartzheim, Urban (6) and Lawton, Brousseau (7); Forbes and Ransford. W — Hartzheim. L — Forbes. 2B — NM: Miles 3, Urban.

ASHLAND 12, MT. SHASTA 1, 5 inn.: At Ashland, senior Shelby Brown connected for a pair of home runs and sophomore Glory Pistole added three hits to go with a one-hitter inside the circle to propel Ashland at North Mountain Park.

Brown, who has four homers this spring, blasted a three-run homer during an eight-run first inning for the Grizzlies (11-7). She connected for a walk-off two-run HR in the fifth to finish with five RBIs.

Pistole supplied a two-run double during the first-inning surge and finished with two doubles. She also struck out five and walked one to earn the win.

Ivy Clason also had two hits for Ashland.

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Powers and Wolmar; Pistole and Theobald. W — Pistole (6-5). L — Powers. 2B — A: Pistole 2, Jenkins. HR — A: Brown 2 (4).

SUTHERLIN 20, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 5, 5 inn.: At Sutherlin, McKenzie Bonner clubbed her second home run of the season for Cascade Christian but the Challengers were unable to overcome 12 errors in the Far West League loss.

Bonner’s homer was a solo shot to center field in the fourth inning, where the Challengers (0-16, 0-4 FWL) tallied four runs after also posting four in the third inning.

Bonner finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored, Katelynn Reed was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run while Bella Williams went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

Both teams were scoreless until Sutherlin (4-9, 1-4) put up 15 runs in the third inning to gain control.

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Bonner and Williams; Westrom and Englestad. W — Westrom. L — Bonner. 2B — S: Radmer, Vermillion; CC: Reed. HR — CC: Bonner (2).

ROGUE RIVER 19, BONANZA 13: At Bonanza, Rogue River struck for five runs in the top of the fourth inning to erase an 8-4 deficit and take the lead for good in the Class 2A/1A District 5 win.

The Chieftains (5-3, 3-1 Dist. 5) tacked on eight more runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by Peyton Stillwagner’s two-run single.

Mikayla Moore finished 3-for-6 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a pair of stolen bases for Rogue River, while Ayrica Hanson went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. Madi Stancliff came away 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs.

Stillwagner finished 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs, while Avery Bushey scored four runs with three stolen bases.

The loss dropped Bonanza to 4-7 overall and 1-1 in league play.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Kirsten Morgan, shown in action earlier this season, came up with big defensive and offensive plays in the 10th inning to lead the Panthers to a 1-0 win over Grants Pass on Tuesday.