Raiders sweep Northwest Christian, keep playoff hopes alive

SOU one game out of final conference playoff spot with two games remaining

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon scored six runs in the first two innings to claim a 6-0 victory in the opener and followed it up with a 5-4 walk-off victory to earn a Cascade Collegiate Conference sweep over Northwest Christian on senior day Saturday at University Field.

Lauren Keel and Ashley Lowe each finished the day with four hits, including the walk-off single for Lowe in the second contest. Jessica Flores, Sierra Anderson and Kara Kelsey tallied three hits for the Raiders (18-21, 14-12 Cascade).

Four Beacons finished the day with multiple hits, with Dani Gehrke picking up the only two hits for NCU (5-27, 3-19) in the opener.

The teams will have a doubleheader rematch on Tuesday in Eugene as the Raiders will aim to cap their regular season by clinching the fourth and final seed in the CCC tournament. SOU trails fourth-place College of Idaho by one game in the standings. The Coyotes host a doubleheader with second-place Concordia today.

Sydney White closed out her workhorse weekend by picking up both wins. The day after throwing nearly 270 pitches against Corban, White totaled 145 pitches while throwing a complete-game two-hitter in the opener and pitching the final 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball in relief during the second contest. Parker Bonife pitched both games for NCU to take the two losses.

Southern Oregon scored two runs in the first inning and four runs in the second inning before both teams put up zeros the rest of the way in the opener. Keel and Kelsey led off with consecutive singles, with Keel scoring on a sacrifice fly by Alexa Gonzalez and Kelsey scoring on a single by Anderson.

The second inning featured three hits, two walks and a pair of Northwest Christian errors. Southern Oregon finished a home run short of the cycle in the frame, as Kelsey singled, Keel doubled and Stephanie Vandenbusch tripled.

Northwest Christian opened the scoring with a home run in the first inning of the second game, and the Beacons added three more runs in the third to hold the lead until late in the game. Bonife helped her own cause with a homer to deep center in the first, but Gonzalez doubled and scored on an NCU error in the bottom of the inning to tie it up at 1-1.

A pair of SOU errors helped fuel a three-run third inning for Northwest Christian. Randi Kostner doubled and Addy Hoskins and Kaeli Massetto singled in the inning, and the three runs prompted SOU coach Kim Fritts to bring White back off the bench to end the rally. The freshman came through, inducing a shallow groundout and a lineout to strand a pair of baserunners and end the threat.

The Raiders slowly worked their way back into the game, scoring a run each in the third, fourth and sixth innings to tie the game and set the stage for the seventh-inning walk-off. Flores doubled and scored on a single by Gonzalez in the third, while Anderson singled to lead off the fourth and scored on a double by Lowe. Lowe's second double of the game led off the sixth, and she scored to tie the game on Flores' double to right.

Southern Oregon stranded five base runners in the fifth and sixth innings, but three consecutive hits in the seventh clinched the victory for the Raiders. Anderson and Julia Willison singled and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, and Lowe's third hit of the game brought home the winning run to keep SOU in the hunt for a postseason spot.

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