Pendleton senior Sauren Garton struck out 30 in 12 innings at the Hawks Invitational this week. (Photo by John Taber)
Pendleton senior Sauren Garton struck out 30 in 12 innings at the Hawks Invitational this week. (Photo by John Taber)

Pendleton showed why it is considered one of the teams to beat in 5A this season with an impressive two-day run this week in the Hawks Invitational at the Nelson Sports Complex in Happy Valley.

After having their first two games rained out, the Buckaroos opened their season by cruising to four wins against 6A teams, outscoring their opponents 50-1.

“I was happy with the way we made some adjustments,” said coach Tim Cary, whose team was voted No. 2 in the OSAAtoday preseason 5A coaches poll. “We were just excited to see some live pitching, get to swing the bats, just to see where we're at. For the most part, I thought we did a good job.”

On Monday, Pendleton defeated Centennial 18-1 in five innings and Central Catholic 7-0 in six innings. On Tuesday, the Buckaroos rolled past Clackamas 15-0 in four innings and McDaniel 10-0 in five innings.

Pendleton batted .393 for the tournament, led by senior outfielder Chloe Taber, who went 8 for 15 with five RBIs. Seniors Daisy Jenness and Ella Chrisman also drove in five runs apiece and freshman Ella Sams and sophomore Avery Krigbaum had four RBIs each. The Buckaroos did not hit a home run but had 14 doubles and five triples.

Senior pitcher Sauren Garton, who has signed with Dixie State (Utah), was dominant. In 12 innings, she allowed two hits, no runs, struck out 30 and walked five.

“Anytime you have a great pitcher in the circle, you have an opportunity to win a ton of games,” Cary said of the 5-foot-10 Garton. “We feel like Sauren is a very good pitcher and she will give us that opportunity.”

Pendleton returned eight starters from last season, when the team went 15-2. The only exception is senior catcher Brie Youncs, who suffered a broken collarbone on her throwing shoulder in the second-to-last game of basketball season.

“She's on the disabled list for probably the entire season,” Cary said.

Cary – who has coached Pendleton to five state finals, winning titles in 2012, 2014 and 2018 – likes how his offense is coming together, even if the Buckaroos might have to take a different approach than in past seasons.

“We don't have the power hitters like we've had, but we do have some scrappy hitters that are good at putting the ball in play, getting a lot of singles,” Cary said. “So it might take us a little bit more time to push some runners around the bases, whereas in the past we've had several girls that can hit it out of the park.”

Cary said that Garton has “decent power” in the leadoff spot. Taber, a left-handed slap hitter, bats No. 2. Chrisman has a big bat at No. 3 and Jenness is in the cleanup spot.

Pendleton went 9-0 in the Intermountain Conference last season, beating 2019 state champion Ridgeview 7-0 and 11-1. But the Buckaroos lost to Ridgeview 8-4 in a season-ending league playoff.

Pendleton won't meet No. 6 Ridgeview until a three-game series May 6-10. The Buckaroos will get a big test April 9 when they visit No. 1 Wilsonville for a doubleheader.

Cary said he believes his team has championship potential.

“There are some things we need to do to tighten up our camaraderie, and little things we need to improve, like baserunning, to put it all together,” he said. “But yeah, it's a very good group of listeners that want to get better. They can certainly put it all together and make a pretty good run.”

Tornado takes down Wilsonville

North Medford handed 5A No. 1 Wilsonville its first loss of the season Tuesday in the Spring Break Invitational in Medford.

The Black Tornado (6-2), No. 7 in the OSAAtoday preseason 6A coaches poll, defeated the Wildcats 2-1 on a walk-off RBI single by junior Samara Miles in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Sophomore Gabbi Urban scattered eight hits, struck out nine and did not walk a batter against Wilsonville (5-1). North Medford had seven hits off Michigan-bound senior Maddie Erickson, getting two hits each from Urban and Miles.

The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on doubles by sophomores Madeline Holly and Calli Weaving. The Black Tornado made it 1-1 in the fourth inning on an RBI single by junior Alexis Wadley.

In the bottom of the seventh, junior Rhyan Hamlin led off with a walk, moved to second base on a sacrifice and scored on the hit by Miles.

The Black Tornado followed the win by beating Southridge 1-0 behind Urban, who threw a two-hitter with six strikeouts.

South Umpqua rolling

South Umpqua, ranked sixth in 3A, punctuated its four-game run through the Spring Break Invitational in Medford with an 11-0, six-inning win over No. 3 Dayton on Tuesday.

The Lancers (8-0) scored 10 runs in the sixth inning to close out the win over the Pirates (2-3), who committed 10 errors in the game. Junior Violet Richardson pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and had a home run and three RBIs for South Umpqua.

The Lancers opened the tournament Monday by defeating Willamina 10-0 in five innings and 4A No. 5 Mazama 15-5 in six innings. They beat Taft 6-4 in their first game Tuesday.

Against Willamina, Richardson threw a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and sophomore Kaydence Norton homered. Sophomore Ashlyn Vey had a big game against Mazama, going 3 for 5 with a double, two home runs and eight RBIs.

South Umpqua benefited from eight errors to edge Taft 6-4. Norton and junior Tatum Kelley hit home runs and Kelley got the win in the circle, allowing four unearned runs.

The Lancers have outscored their opponents 87-9 this season.