High school round-up — Tigers cap tough experience on spring break trip with an extra-innings win over South Medford

MEDFORD — The Newberg High School softball team has been battling a rash of shoulder injuries early on in the 2014 campaign, so maybe it’s fitting the Tigers had such a disjointed experience at the Grants Pass-North Medford Invitational last week.

Head coach Steve Richard’s team split its two games March 24, besting Sheldon, but losing 5-1 in bizarre fashion against Grants Pass.

The Tigers’ experience March 25 was just as up-and-down, as a slow start scuttled their chances in a 7-3 loss to Dallas before NHS ended the trip on a high note by outlasting South Medford 5-4 in eight innings.

Newberg and Grants Pass played eight scoreless innings and were told by the umpires that, according to tournament rules, only one extra inning would be played.

After Richards addressed the team, the umpires returned and said the game would be played out. That did not favor the Tigers, who had cooled down and eventually surrendered five runs in the top of the ninth to fall 5-1.

Newberg had a similarly long wait versus Dallas and the Dragons jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings.

“Our pitching wasn’t sharp at the beginning: a couple walks, a hit and a hit batter and the next thing you know we’re a couple runs behind and it just kept going that way. We got off on the wrong foot and never got it going again.”

The Tigers collected eight hits in that game, but continuing an early season trend, weren’t able to string enough of them together to get the big-run innings they needed.

“We’re having a hard time coming up with a hit with runners on base,” Richards said. “Runners and second and third or bases loaded, those situations have been tough on our hitters.”

Newberg did score three in the third inning against the Panthers, but the contest went to extra innings. The tournament embraced the international tiebreaker rule — putting a runner at second to start the frame — was enacted immediately in the eighth.

South Medford advanced its runner to third, but second baseman Annie Sackett snagged a line drive and doubled up the runner at third to end the threat.

Sackett then scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth, advancing to third and then scoring on a Paityn Willoughby single to secure the 5-4 win.

“The team camaraderie is really good, it’s the best I’ve seen it in the two years that I’ve been the head coach,” Richards said. “These kids are pretty excited to be with one another and are supporting each other.”

Richards said he’s had to be very creative to create lineups with various players missing time, but if there’s a time to get experience, it’s in the preseason.

“It will benefit us down the road as we get into the season and you get that unexpected injury or something happens and a kid can’t play, you have people that have played that position,” Richards said. “We have some great versatility and some very skilled athletes.”

Pitcher Madison Plummer has been one of the players nursing a bad shoulder, but like the rest of the team, Richards sees a lot of potential in her.

“She came back and pitched that Dallas game strong and then pitched that whole South Medford game and did really well,” Richards said. “We’re working with her on keeping her pitch count down and being more efficient with her pitches. She’s responding really well to that.”

Girls lacrosse

Tigard 15, Newberg 5 — Christina Bryan scored twice and had five draw controls, but Tigard stifled the Tigers’ offense by double and triple teaming key players in the second half. Jordan Giesch, Lexi Greer and Abby turned scored one goal apiece to round out the scoring.

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