ASHLAND — Northwest broke out of its month-long hitting slump at an inopportune time for the Southern Oregon University softball team Saturday, but the Raiders fought back to salvage a split in their final doubleheader of the season at University Field.
Bethany Bacon smacked a solo homer, Ricki Tacdol hit a two-run single and Kelli Peckham preserved a 6-3 win by escaping bases-loaded jams in each of the last three innings as the Eagles (2-28 overall, 2-22 Cascade Conference) snapped a 20-game losing streak in Game 1. After their 10 hits went for naught in the opener, the Raiders (13-17, 12-10) made the most of 11 more in Game 2 and capped a 9-1 win with Ashley Lowe's game-ending two-run double with one out in the fifth.
With fifth-place Corban's split against College of Idaho, the fourth-place Raiders trimmed two games off their magic number, which stands at three to secure a spot in the four-team CCC tournament with six games remaining. They'll start at OIT on Monday before finishing up at Northwest and Concordia next weekend.
Gina Ayala went 4-for-6 for SOU, Megan Scherer went 4-for-7 with two RBI — making her 8-for-13 on the weekend — and Lowe added three hits.
Ayala and Julia Willison had RBI singles during SOU's three-run first inning in Game 2. Scherer, Craig and Lowe had the run-scoring hits in a six-run fifth, locking down Brianne Craig's complete-game win. She struck out six and allowed four hits without an earned run.
The loss in the opener was the Raiders' fifth straight of the week. Despite giving up 10 hits, Peckham kept them off balance until the late innings.
Track and Field
OREGON RELAYS — At Eugene, the NAIA spotlight followed Eric Avila to another event Saturday night at Hayward Field. He was plenty worthy of it as usual.
Competing in the 1,500-meter race for the first time this year, Avila wiped out his own school record, topped a third NAIA Track and Field chart and was bested only by Olympian Matthew Centrowitz on the final day of the Oregon Relays. He was joined in nailing down an NAIA automatic qualifying mark by Raider junior Markus Sanders, who now also has 'A' marks in multiple events after his runner-up showing in the discus.
Centrowitz, a silver medalist in the 1,500 at the 2013 World Championships who was representing the Nike Oregon Project, finished in 3:41.85, a shade better than Avila's 3:42.18. The latter time is two seconds faster than the No. 2 time in the NAIA this season and 1.4 seconds faster than the top NAIA time Avila recorded last season to set an SOU record.
Avila, who possesses the NAIA's top times in the 800, the 1,500 and the 5K on top of winning the cross country title last fall, was in a field of 12 that included four University of Oregon runners.
Sanders threw the discus 158 feet, 4 inches for his 'A' mark. He's also a qualifier in the hammer.
Jonz Olander finished third in his attempted defense of the 400-meter race he won last year. He improved his NAIA 'B' standard qualifying mark by a tenth of a second and nearly tracked down winner Marcus Chambers (46.88) of Oregon. It was the No. 3 time in Raider history, though he already has the record (47.70).
SOU's women's 4x400-meter relay team got better, too, clocking 3:55.57 to claim fourth place in a field of nine. The performance just missed an 'A' mark but was a slight improvement on the 'B' time most recently posted (3:56.18) by the Raider quartet, which consists of Rachele Bedsole, Tierra Barrett, Aspen Abbott and Amelia Maguin.
Elsewhere for the Raiders, Cameron Bremner took seventh of 14 in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.99 seconds. Oregon's Devon Allen won in 10.55.
Holy Haga threw 117-10 in the discus, an event in which she's already qualified for the NAIA Championships.