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SOU softball team headed to Kentucky for opening round of nationals

The Southern Oregon University softball team is headed to the national tournament for the first time in 10 years after receiving an at-large bid Tuesday.

Two days after falling in the Cascade Conference tournament semifinals the 21st-ranked Raiders (36-16) found out during a selection show that they had been awarded one of nine at-large bids for the NAIA national tournament. They’ll travel to Columbia, Kentucky for a four-team opening round tournament hosted by No. 7 Lindsey Wilson, May 16-18.

The Lindsey Wilson bracket is one of 10 opening round tournaments held across the country. Each are arranged in a double elimination format, with the winners advancing to the NAIA World Series, May 27 to June 2 in Sioux City, Iowa.

The other teams headed to Columbia are 17th-ranked Marian and unranked Ashford. Lindsey Wilson is the bracket’s top seed, Marian the second, SOU third and Ashford fourth.

SOU, which was one of four teams from the Cascade Conference to qualify for nationals, will begin its national postseason May 16 against Marian (44-9), which won the Crossroads League title. The winner of that game will face the winner between Lindsey Wilson (44-12) and Ashford (30-22) the following day.

Lindsey Wilson took second in the Mid-South Conference, has advanced to five of the last six World Series and was the national runner-up last season. Ashford qualified by winning the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference/Independent tournament and Marian won the Crossroads League title.

CCC tournament champion Eastern Oregon, tourney runner-up Great Falls (Montana) and Oregon Tech will also represent the Cascade Conference in the national tournament.

Prep Baseball

At Medford, Jesse Carroll and Nick Sanderson had two hits and three RBI’s apiece, Peyton Fuller hit a home run and Sanderson was almost unhittable on the mound as Ashland buried Cascade Christian 13-0 in a mercy rule-shortened nonleague game at U.S. Cellular Community Park on Tuesday.

Carroll was 2-for-2 with a double and scored three times, Sanderson was 2-for-2 and pitched four shutout innings and Fuller hit a two-run homer to left in the third inning to extend Ashland’s lead to 5-0.

Carroll had a two-run single in the fifth to help the Grizzlies (17-7) finish the game early.

Sanderson had six strikeouts and one walk in four innings while holding the Challengers to one hit. Evan McLennan pitched a scoreless fifth to preserve the shutout.

For Cascade Christian (7-14), leadoff hitter Kevin Wheeler delivered his team’s only hit of the game, a single in the third.

Ashland, which has won three of its last four, caps its regular season Monday against Summit in a game that will also be played at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

Ashland;203;44;—;13;9;2

Cascade Christian;000;00;—;0;1;0

Sanderson, McLennan (5) and Carroll, Evans (5); Palmer, Ca. Wager (4), Wheeler (4) and Thompson. W — Sanderson. L — Palmer (4-4). 2B — A: Edwards, Carroll. HR — A: Fuller.

Prep Softball

Junior pitcher Megan Ayres pitched a five-inning no-hitter and smashed a home run to power Eagle Point to a 15-0, mercy rule-shortened Midwestern League victory over Ashland on Tuesday at North Mountain Park.

Eagle Point 045 06 – 15 5 1

Ashland 000 00 – 0 0 14

Ayres and Grady; Philpott, Bohn and Carty. W – Ayres. L – Philpott. HR – EP: Ayres.