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Southridge takes out Thurston


Pair of three-run homers clips Colts

One of the youngest softball teams in 6A got a big dose of confidence in the first round of the state playoffs on Monday.

If they're going to beat North Medford, the No. 1 team in the land this week on the road, Southridge needs every ounce of certainty it can muster. The Skyhawks and Black Tornado squared off on Wednesday after the Valley Times went to press.

Southridge — with just two seniors on the roster — torpedoed Thurston 7-2 at home thanks to a sound pitching performance by freshman Morgan Penn and a pair of three-run, inside-the-park home runs by Erin Bonzer in the third inning and freshman pinch hitter Payge Brown in the fifth. Bonzer and Brown's blasts were only the second and third homers hit for the Skyhawks all season but couldn't have come at a better time.

“We had the long ball and lots of power last year but nothing this year,” said head coach Wilbur Charters. "We put the bat on the ball and ran the bases well both times and didn't make any mistakes at all, so that helps.”

Penn got her first taste of playoff softball in the circle and held her own against Thurston's notoriously powerful lineup, holding the Colts to just two earned runs. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Southridge Skyhawks pitcher Morgan Penn threw a complete game against Thurston in the first round of the 6A state playoffs on Monday.

The win sets up a date with the defending state champions and arguably the best pitcher in the Pacific Northwest in Maryssa Becker. All hands would have to be on deck when Southridge challenged No. 1 North Medford on the road on Wednesday.

With the University of Louisville commit Becker throwing and a glut of brawny batters with all-state credentials in the lineup for the Black Tornado, the green Skyhawks would receive their stiffest test yet. Southridge actually hung with North Medford at the Black Tornado's spring break tournament in March, dropping a close 3-1 defeat.

“We never felt we had control in that game,” said Charters. "They were always out there in front of us, and we were always on the defensive. It'll be a tough game.”

Southridge won't be overmatched with two future collegiate players on its roster in seniors Britney Bradley and Shae Nelson, but the upperclassmen will certainly require their teammates to chip at Becker and her flame-throwing arsenal of pitches.

“We have to have everything click just right if we're going to come out with a win, especially going down there to Medford,” said Charters. “We have to somehow figure out a way to get on base against Becker. They're a pretty good offensive team when we played them, and they can hit the ball around.”