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SOFTBALL/BASEBALL: North slides by GP

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For North Medford, Tuesday’s euphoric feeling at the end of a softball game seemed a long time in the making, and for good reason.

It’s been a month since the Black Tornado had turned in the key at-bats to push through a competitive battle, but they were scattered throughout a gritty 8-7 walk-off win over visiting Grants Pass at North Medford High.

“We finally came out on the other side of a one-run game for a change,” said North Medford coach Chris Campbell on a mix of glee and another relief. “It was really good to see.”

The apex of the Southwest Conference victory, which snapped a five-game losing streak for the Black Tornado (10-13, 4-9 SWC), came from a fitting source in No. 9 hitter Anna Gates. The senior second baseman had previously reached base twice on hard hit balls to the shortstop that resulted in errors and ultimately led to her scoring a pair of runs for North.

Given another chance to help her team stem its slide in the bottom of the seventh, Gates proved up to the challenge.

Alexis Wadley, inserted into the lineup in the fourth inning, singled to open the seventh and advanced to second base when freshman Caileigh Raines drew a one-out walk. After a wild pitch by Grants Pass senior Sarah Martin put runners on second and third, the Cavers (10-14, 6-7) opted to intentionally walk freshman catcher Kayleigh Brousseau to set up a force play at any base.

With all eyes on her, Gates delivered a hot shot to third baseman Ellie Berg, whose resulting throw home was high and too late to deny a hard-charging Wadley.

“Anna’s been working hard this week on her swing and putting the ball in play and not trying to do too much,” said Campbell, whose team had previously lost a pair of one-run games to GP. “They had the infield playing in and Anna hit a good, hard shot at the third baseman and she bobbled it a little bit. (Wadley) broke really well on the ball and is a fast runner, and she really went hard into the plate for us. She saw the ball down and took off and did a really great job of getting down at the plate.”

The clutch efforts set off a long-awaited celebration for North Medford, which beat last-place South Eugene on April 26 but otherwise had gone 0-for-9 since an April 9 sweep at Roseburg.

“It was just a good solid team effort,” said Campbell, “and it just kind of showed the girls what they can do if we put together a complete game. Their abilities will take them a long ways if they just believe in themselves and compete on every pitch.”

That belief was challenged early on as Grants Pass built a 7-2 advantage in the top of the fourth inning, but Campbell said his team’s determination was able to win out and the Tornado was rewarded during a pivotal fifth-inning flurry.

“The girls just didn’t give up,” said Campbell. “We got down 7-2 and we just kept talking about, ‘Chip away, chip away. We don’t need them all, just one or two, whatever we can get to put the pressure back on and start building some momentum to see if we can’t come back and get a victory out of this thing.’”

After Gates and Rhyan Hamlin each reached safely on errors by the Cavers, Samara Miles singled home the first run of the frame and Hamlin later scored on a passed ball. With one out, Alyssa Hartzheim delivered a run-scoring single for her third RBI of the game. Wadley followed with her first hit after being inserted into the lineup, and junior Araseli Guerrero ripped a two-run triple that ended with another play at the plate beaten out by Wadley.

“We’ve been trying to find kids who want to compete and Araseli stepped up last week against Sheldon so we gave her another chance today,” said Campbell of the rarely utilized designated hitter. “Hitting is contagious and by then a couple girls had gotten hits and she just followed suit with what the rest of them were doing.”

Miles finished 3-for-4 and North got two hits apiece from Hartzheim and Wadley, while Gabbi Urban came on in relief of Hartzheim to pick up the pitching victory with a four-inning effort that included scoreless frames over the final three innings.

Grants Pass1042000—7104

North Medford0020501—892

Martin and Harry; Hartzheim, Urban (4) and Brousseau. W — Urban. L — Martin. 3B — NM: Guerrero.

ROSEBURG 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 0: At Roseburg, Kirsten Morgan and Maleyah Thoele generated the lone hits for South Medford as the third-ranked Panthers dipped to a half-game lead in the Southwest Conference with the road loss.

Kami Gibson struck out seven and walked one in a two-hitter for Roseburg (11-12, 7-6 SWC), which scored twice in the bottom of the first inning to seize control on a two-run double by Haleigh Wamboldt.

South Medford (20-4, 11-2) stranded runners at second and third base in the third after a two-out rally, and had a similar setup in the seventh after Maddy Fullenwider and Nicole Ledendecker reached base with one out before Gibson escaped the final jam with a groundout and strikeout.

South Medford0000000—022

Roseburg200010x—351

Hudson, Knutson (5) and Hillyer; Gibson and Stribling. W — Gibson. L — Hudson. 2B — R: Blix, Wamboldt.

CRATER 10-9, EAGLE POINT 0-10: At Eagle Point, Alexis Perez tossed a three-hit shutout and Abby Foster smashed a solo home run during Crater’s five-run third inning in Game 1 to help the Comets clinch the Midwestern League title.

Eagle Point was able to salvage a doubleheader split and stands tied for second with Thurston with two games remaining.

The Comets (18-6, 13-1 MWL) captured the opener in five innings by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule. In the nightcap, Eagle Point (16-8, 10-4) rallied in the sixth inning to prevail.

Perez allowed five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in Game 1, and Lilli Reid hit a two-run single to bolster the Comets’ lead to 7-0 in the third. She finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Alyssa Kilbane went 3-for-3 and Kaylynn Wolchok was 2-for-3 and scored twice.

After a one-out single by the Eagles’ Baylee Mullen brought home Jocelyn Hanan to knot the score 9-all in Game 2, Jovianna Marshall singled home Hailey Waldon for the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Hanan had reached base with a leadoff walk and advanced on a double by Waldon.

Eagle Point’s Sydney Boren hit a solo homer in the first inning and finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Mullen and Marshall each went 2-for-3.

Kilbane came away 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI for Crater, while Abby Foster was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Maddie Sheadel went 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI.

FIRST GAME

Crater21520—10122

Eagle Point00000—053

Perez and Reid; Smith and Nielsen. W — Perez (7-3). L — Smith. 2B — EP: Boren. HR — C: A. Foster.

SECOND GAME

Crater0053100—9143

Eagle Point140032x—10113

Allen, S. Foster (2) and Reid; Smith, Lierman (5) and Nielsen. W — Lierman. L — S. Foster. 2B — C: Kilbane, Van Wey; EP: Waldon. HR — EP: Boren (6).

Baseball

SOUTH MEDFORD 6, ROSEBURG 1: At Roseburg, South Medford used a five-run fifth inning to break the Southwest Conference game open and allow the seventh-ranked Panthers to pull even atop the league standings with No. 10 Roseburg at 10-3 apiece.

Tosh Stupenhaus and Cameron Sewell led off the fifth with singles and Jace Miller followed with an RBI double. Tanner Douglas, who was walked three times, kept the scoreboard moving with an RBI triple and consecutive run-scoring singles by Elijah Havey and Carson Joe gave the Panthers (18-3) plenty of cushion.

Joe allowed three hits with four strikeouts and two walks in a complete-game effort for South, which also saw Cameron Sewell go 3-for-4 against the Indians (16-7).

South Medford0000510—690

Roseburg0010000—131

Joe and Havey; Corbin, P. Burke (6) and Knox. W — Joe. L — Corbin. 2B — SM: Miller; R: Hubbard, Dunn. 3B — SM: Douglas.

GRANTS PASS 12, NORTH MEDFORD 6: North Medford surrendered five runs in the top of the second inning and was never able to recover as Grants Pass triumphed in the Southwest Conference contest.

Taholo Vainuku-Johnson launched a two-run home run during the big second inning for the Cavemen (12-11, 6-7 SWC) and added a two-run single in the fifth inning to push their lead to 10-3. The senior finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored, with Luke Morgan also going for 3-for-5 with four runs scored.

Trey Newmann and Colton Morgan had each had run-scoring singles in the first and seventh innings, respectively, for the Black Tornado (10-12, 4-7). Newmann, Morgan and Johnny King all had two hits and Davis Carr drove in a pair of runs.

Grants Pass3500202—12141

North Medford3000012—673

Baker, Osborne (7) and Osborne, Carnes (7); King, Carr (3), Havens (7) and Newberg. W — Baker. L — King. 2B — GP: Baker. HR — GP: Johnson.

ST. MARY’S 5, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 2: Alan Gomez’s two-run single in the bottom of the sixth broke a 2-all deadlock and No. 9 St. Mary’s beat crosstown rival and top-ranked Cascade Christian to open this week’s key three-game series.

St. Mary’s (13-6, 6-4 FWL) scored four runs to reclaim the lead after Cascade Christian (18-4, 8-3) went ahead 2-1 in the top of the sixth on a Liam Benade RBI single. Ean Lawrence, who doubled to start the rally, scored the tying run on a wild pitch before Gomez put the Crusaders in front with a single down the right field line. Gomez scored the final run of the inning on a Cascade throwing error.

The Challengers previously tied the game in the fifth on Jack Knips’ infield single.

Three St. Mary’s pitchers — Beau Aldrich, Travis Johnson and Eli Haynes — limited Cascade Christian to just four hits. Aldrich allowed one hit and struck out four in four shutout innings, while Johnson threw 2 2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run and three hits with four strikeouts. Haynes, who also had a pair of hits and a key catch in the outfield, came in and recorded the final out to get the save.

Cascade Christian0000110—241

St. Mary’s100004x—573

Thompson, Stofflet (6) and Wallace; Aldrich, Johnson (5), Haynes (7) and Lawrence. W — Johnson. L — Thompson. S — Haynes. 2B — SM: Lawrence.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Alexis Wadley slides safely into home plate to tie the game during the fifth inning on Tuesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Emily Dunn reaches to make a catch for an out during the fourth inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Araseli Guerrero connects for an RBI triple during the fifth inning against Grants Pass.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Alyssa Hartzheim makes the catch for an out at third base during the fourth inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Alexis Wadley drops down at the plate to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning against Grants Pass.