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Local softball, baseball teams eye key matchups this week

A big week for local baseball and softball teams begins with a showdown between two of the top softball teams in the Cascade Conference today at University Field.

No. 16 Southern Oregon trails unranked Oregon Tech by two games in the CCC West standings heading into the doubleheader, which is set to begin at 2 p.m.

Three hours later, starting at 5 p.m., the Ashland High School softball and baseball teams open their Midwestern League schedules — the softball team hosts Churchill at North Mountain Park, and the baseball team, which is still undefeated (5-0) following a sensational three-game swing through Arizona, travels north to take on Springfield.

The SOU softball team (21-9, 7-3 CCC) enters today’s twin bill on a four-game win streak after sweeping Northwest and British Columbia last week, while unranked Oregon Tech (14-11, 9-1) has won six in a row and will likely jump back into the NAIA Top 25 today after starting the season ranked third nationally.

The Raiders, who boast the league’s third-best team ERA (3.21) and second-best team fielding percentage (.967), also host doubleheaders against Eastern Oregon on Friday and College of Idaho on Saturday. The Mountaineers (16-14, 7-3) are first place in the CCC East.

Southern Oregon is led by freshman pitcher Victoria Mackey, who’s 10-1 with a 1.62 ERA, ranking first in the conference by a wide margin in both categories. Also for the Raiders, junior second baseman Kayleen Smith is batting .429 with 20 RBIs, five doubles and five triples, and sophomore shortstop Kelsey Randall, SOU’s leadoff hitter, is batting .394 and has scored a team-high 21 runs.

The Raiders rank ninth in the country in total steals (65) after swiping 13 against British Columbia. Smith has stolen 25 bases in 27 attempts.

The Ashland High softball team (1-1) hasn’t played since it beat Illinois Valley 21-17 in a nonleague game on March 19 and will be looking to start MWL play on the right foot against a Churchill team (3-2) which has played four games in that span. The Grizzlies then host Crater on Saturday.

The Ashland High baseball team will be taking on a Springfield team which is still looking for its first win after starting the season with six consecutive losses. The two teams play two more against each other Saturday in Ashland.

The Grizzlies, led by sluggers Jesse Carroll and Nick Sanderson, have scored 45 runs in five games.