By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Grizzlies' season ended in play-in

The South Medford Panthers scored six runs in the top of the fifth inning Tuesday in a 6A play-in game at McMinnville and pulled off the upset, beating the Grizzlies 11-7 to move on to the state playoffs. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies had their season ended a bit abruptly.

“I wasn’t expecting to lose,” McMinnville coach Courtney Seifert said. “But it happens. I don’t think that we played to our potential unfortunately.”

Leading 6-3 in the top of the fifth inning, McMinnville surrendered six runs to the Panthers and 12 batters came to the plate. After South Medford (5-22) tacked on two more runs in the top of the sixth inning, it led 11-6.

“Seems to be the trend this season where we have one inning where they score five or six,” Seifert said. “That’s hard to come back from.”

McMinnville (8-17) tried. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Makayla Khatewoda singled to score Samantha Hensley, but the Grizzlies stranded Khatewoda. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Mac had the bases loaded with one out but Hensley popped up to second base for the second out of the inning, and Mackenzie Davis flew out to deep centerfield to end the game.

“You never want to lose hope until it’s over,” Seifert said, “but you don’t want for it to come down to that every time.”

The Panthers also made the trip to McMinnville last year for a play-in game. Then, South Medford was 6-17 and lost 2-1. A year later, players and coaches knew what to expect.

“Kudos to (South Medford) for having a five hour road trip and showing up,” Seifert said. “They weren’t just going to go away. They were going to fight too.”

McMinnville jumped out to an early lead after scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Grizzlies added two more in the bottom of the third inning on two errors by South Medford, and Mac scored another run in the fourth inning on two more errors.

“They kept us in the game,” Seifert said.

But as the game progressed, South Medford pitcher Hannah Newman was able to just keep Mac’s bats from having too big of an inning. Mac’s six through nine batters were a combined 1-for-15.

Davis and Layne Pendleton each had three hits. Davis also scored two runs and had an RBI. Khatewoda was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Hensley had two hits and scored three runs. Allyson had one hit in her final game of her softball career.

In all, four seniors played in their final games for Mac. Davis, Lauren Ulbricht, Allyson Ulbricht and Pendleton all graduate in June.

Seifert said she felt like Mac had some positive momentum going into the game today after winning the final two games of the regular season vs. Century and Hillsboro.

“Sometimes, this is just how it goes,” she said.

Kamrie Hoggard pitched 4 1/3 innings and seven hits and nine runs. Hensley pitched the final 2 2/3 innings for Mac.

The loss wraps up Seifert’s first year at the helm for the Grizzlies. She previously coached the JV 2 team but took over in the fall after Kylee Nichols left for Hermiston. Seifert said by the end of the season she felt more comfortable in her role and settled into a good coaching style.

“They were a great group of girls this year,” Seifert said. “They were a pleasure for my first season has a head coach. We had a lot of fun.”

Still, Seifert said she spent the last four months coaching her players six days a week.

She shared in their successes and failures, and that ended suddenly Tuesday with a tough loss.

“I’m not ready to not see the girls,” she said.

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