TIGARD – No. 2 Tigard and ace pitcher Makenna Reid passed an early-season test by holding off No. 5 Sheldon 4-1 in a 6A nonleague softball game Friday.
The Florida State-bound Reid, a senior lefty, threw a three-hitter with 17 strikeouts and one walk and junior catcher Karen Spadafora homered for the second game in a row as the host Tigers (2-0) handed the Irish (2-1) – the 2019 state champion – their first defeat.
“I didn't have my best stuff today, and still got the win,” said Reid, who has struck out 30 and allowed four hits in winning the first two games of the season. “It feels good to beat a team that's been in the top rankings the past couple seasons.”
Sheldon, which outscored its first two opponents 18-2, struck first when sophomore pitcher Payton Burnham homered to left-center field off Reid in the top of the second inning. The Irish held on to that 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning as Burnham kept the Tigers in check.
But Spadafora, who hit a home run to give Tigard a 1-0 win at Sherwood in the season opener Tuesday, led off the fourth inning with a solo shot to right-center field to make it 1-1. The blast seemed to ignite the Tigers, who added two more runs in the inning to lead 3-1.
“I knew I just needed to get something done,” said the heavy-hitting Spadafora, who hit eight home runs in 18 games last season. “We needed to get going because we were kind of low at the beginning, and we picked it up at the end.”
After Spadafora's home run, senior Kani Korok and sophomore Hailey White followed with singles and sophomore Macy Witt reached on an error to load the bases with no outs. Korok scored on a wild pitch and senior Kaylin Kisor hit an RBI groundout to make it 3-1.
Tigard extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth innining when senior Sera Reilly doubled and scored on a groundout by Korok. Reid kept the Irish under wraps the rest of the way, fanning the last four batters to secure the win.
Tigers coach Pete Kostel liked how Reid responded after giving up the home run.
“It's been a while,” Kostel said. “It's never good, but in a sense it's good for her to face some adversity. She did a great job of bouncing back.”
Reid was the Three Rivers League pitcher of the year last season, when she struck out 218 in 108 innings in leading Tigard to a 16-2 record.
“It's a great honor, honestly, to catch her,” Spadafora said of Reid. “It's her will to win. She has very good velocity and very good spin on her ball.”
Reid has high hopes for her senior year before heading off the Florida State, which played in the College Softball World Series last year.
“It's definitely a confidence boost, being signed to Florida State,” Reid said. “I've gone down there a couple times and I've gotten a lot of good mechanics and spin advice from Coach (Lonni) Alameda. That's helped a lot in just trying to prepare for college. I want to get a state championship here first.”
Tigard, which has never won a state title, is counting on a big year from Reid to make a run this season. Her leadership helps set the tone for the Tigers.
“She's engaged with her teammates,” Kostel said. “She wants it for her teammates as much as she wants it for herself.”
Spadafora said the Tigers have “very high goals” this season.
“We just need to have some confidence, and we need to block out the things people are saying and do it as a team,” said Spadafora, who had two of her team's six hits Friday. “There are high expectations, and I think it's getting a little bit to our heads, that we have to win every single game. But I think we just need to do our thing.”
After winning the 2019 title, Sheldon believed it had the team to chase a repeat in 2020, only to have the season canceled by the coronavirus outbreak. The Irish went 15-1 last season and had seven starters come back this year.
Burnham – who gave up six hits, struck out four and walked a batter in four innings Friday – is showing promise in the circle and at the plate. This week, she struck out 22 in 13 innings and went 5 for 8 with two home runs.
“She's a heck of a player. She's the real deal,” Irish coach Mike Faulconer said. “She can hit as well as anybody in the state. She's going to be a scary kid to pitch to. The sky's the limit for her. She's going to be a great one.”
Faulconer isn't putting too much stock in Friday's outcome. He recalled how Sheldon lost at Tigard 8-4 in the first week of the 2019 season and went on to win the state championship.
“We're not going to worry about this, we're going to build off it,” Faulconer said. “We saw a great pitcher, and it's something we can learn from, make some adjustments. It's going to help us in the long run.
“We have a lot of confidence. We feel like we can hang and compete with anybody. It's just one of the steppingstones on the way to the end. Hopefully, we'll be there at the end.”