ASHLAND — Stephanie Nippert tied the NAIA career home run record as No. 10 Corban defeated Southern Oregon 5-3 in the opener, and Stephanie Vandenbusch cranked a homer to lead SOU to a 2-1 win in the second game and a doubleheader split in Cascade Collegiate Conference softball action Friday afternoon at University Field.
Corban maintains its position atop the conference standings with the split, as the Warriors' record goes to 18-4 in conference play and 33-11 overall. Southern Oregon remains in the hunt for the fourth and final spot in the CCC Tournament with four games remaining in the Raiders' season. SOU is now 12-12 in conference play (16-21 overall), one game behind College of Idaho. Both teams return to action today, with the Raiders hosting Northwest Christian and Corban traveling to Klamath Falls to take on No. 15 Oregon Tech.
Nippert's 76th career home run tied the two-time defending CCC Player of the Year with former Lubbock Christian All-American Kim Frazier atop the NAIA leaderboard. The homer was her 23rd of the season.
Ashley Lowe led SOU with four hits on the day, while Vandenbusch hit her fourth homer of the year in the bottom of the sixth inning to set the Raiders up for the Game 2 victory. Julia Willison walked three times and was hit by a pitch in the opener before knocking a pair of hits in the second game. Nippert and Brittany Chestnut led Corban atop the Warriors' lineup, tallying three hits apiece in the doubleheader.
Sydney White pitched both games for SOU, totaling 268 pitches on the day to take the loss in the opener and claim the three-hit victory in the second contest. Amy Greenough earned the win for Corban, with Chelsea Schriber pitching the final 11/3 innings to pick up the save before taking the loss in the second game.
Southern Oregon took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the opener, as Willison walked and scored on a single up the middle by Jessica Flores. Corban tied it up in the top of the third when Kyrianna Sorensen scored on an SOU error, but White picked up a fielder's choice groundout and a strikeout to end the inning with the bases loaded and only one run in.
The Raiders jumped back in top in the bottom of the inning, as Vandenbusch tripled to right and Willison walked before both runners came in to score on Lowe's double to left. Three runs in the top of the fifth gave Corban a 4-3 lead. Liane Dehart and Nippert both walked to start the inning, with a double steal putting runners at second and third with no outs. Chestnut singled to bring home the first run, and Nippert scored on a wild pitch that sent Chestnut to second. Another wild pitch moved Chestnut to third, and she scored on a single down the right field line by Rachel Conard.
Nippert cranked the record-tying opposite field home run to start the seventh, giving Corban a 5-3 lead. Southern Oregon had two runners on in both the sixth and seventh innings, but the Raiders stranded both runners in the sixth and the game came to an end on a double-play lineout in the seventh.
Southern Oregon again claimed an early lead in the second contest, as singles by Willison, Lowe and Irene Barrantes put SOU up 1-0. That lead held until the top of the fifth, when Nippert doubled to left center and scored on an SOU error to tie the game. Vandenbusch prevented a possible extra-inning contest when she stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning and drove the ball over the left field fence to put the Raiders back on top.
OREGON RELAYS — At Eugene, Southern Oregon picked up three event titles and three new NAIA qualifying marks at the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field.
Five Raiders hit automatic qualifying marks for the NAIA national meet, with both Jonz Olander and Kevin Jorgensen qualifying for the first time this season in their respective events. Olander won the 400-meter dash in an A-standard time of 47.98, while taking 11th in the 800-meter run, posting a time of 1:52.29 to surpass the 'A' standard in the event for the first time.
Zach Boyd-Helm placed ninth in the 800 with a time of 1:51.48, and Sullivan Stevens posted a season-best time in the 110 hurdles, winning the race in a time of 14.8. The men's 4x400 relay team of Nick Perrino, Stevens, Boyd-Helm and Olander hit the NAIA 'B' standard for the first time this season, winning the event in a time of 3:16.98. Amelia Maguin finished the 400-meter hurdles in 1:01.94, and Eric Avila placed eighth in the 5,000 with a time of 14:37.46
Southern Oregon also finished with 14 Cascade Collegiate Conference qualifying marks at the meet. The Raiders will return to action next Thursday at the CCC Multi-Event Championships in Klamath Falls.