Beaverton pitcher dominated as senior

School has always come first, before softball, for Mackenzie Spencer.

The all-star pitcher transferred to Beaverton High from Southridge before the school year, leaving behind her Skyhawk senior teammates Shae Nelson and Britney Bradley based solely on academics. She'd been enrolled in a dual-credit program through the Beaverton School District, which allowed her to graduate high school with an associate's degree. If Spencer was going to return to the Skyhawks for her final season, she would've had to cease the accelerated program.

That wasn't a viable option for the big-picture thinking right-hander. Spencer knows there will come a day when she stops throwing the softball competitively. She wants a great academic resume to fall back on, something tangible she'll use in the real world in due course. Fastballs and rise balls can only take you so far, Spencer said.

“To me, softball is a bonus,” said Spencer. “Academics is where it's at for me, and I like to put that first, so it turned out that I was transferred back to Beaverton. It was a good decision all around.

“It was a little tough, just knowing I had the opportunity to be at Southridge, but for me, it's about academics, so whatever happens, happens,” said Spencer. “I was really proud of what happened with Beaverton at the end of the season.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Beaverton Highs Mackenzie Spencer pitches for Team Metro against Team State during the 6A All Star Series at Rosemont Ridge Middle School in West Linn.

Beaverton head coach Roni Illias must have jumped for joy when Spencer and her all-Metro credentials ventured over to BHS. The Beavers were dense with freshmen and young players, but they rode Spencer to late-season flurry of four straight wins to sneak into the 6A state playoffs — a status seldom seen in Beaverton's softball record books. Spencer allowed just six runs in the four consecutive wins before Tualatin defeated the Beavers 4-1 in the first round.

“That was the first time Beaverton's been to the playoffs since 2005, so for that to happen in my last season of high school was just awesome,” said Spencer. “It was such a fulfilling feeling and to have as much success as we had compared to what they've been experiencing in the past, it was really nice to be surrounded by all those girls.”

Spencer is usually unruffled when it comes to pitching from the circle, but even the Beaver senior was a touch hesitant facing the South's muscle at the plate.

“I was like, 'Oh my God, don't hit me in the face when I pitch it at you,'” said Spencer with a laugh. “But it was a lot of fun. I've played against a lot of these girls for the last 10 years, so it's good getting to know them as people instead of as players.”

Spencer reveled in the chance to face State hurler North Medford's Maryssa Becker on Monday. The two pitched against each other when Spencer attended Southridge and have similar styles on the mound.

“A lot of people say we're the same person, same personalities, same body stature and everything,” said Spencer. “She's a really solid pitcher, so it was nice to go out there, throw and put on the high school uniform one last time.”

Spencer's plan is to walk on to the Oregon State softball team in the fall. Her older brother Jordan is a relief pitcher on the University of Oregon baseball squad, so naturally Mackenzie went the opposite route and chose Corvallis instead of Eugene.

“I wanted to be the odd one out in the family, a little different,” joked Spencer. “Division One is a big deal, and I see what my brother goes through with workouts at UO, and I'm a little nervous about 6 a.m. Weights every day. But making the team is the first step, so I'm just working out this summer, getting in really good shape and preparing myself to do my best in the fall.”

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