Raiders split with Tech
KLAMATH FALLS — Saturday's split at 19th-ranked Oregon Tech gave the No. 25 Southern Oregon softball team its first regular-season series win over the Owls since 2009. Given the circumstances, the feeling that they let one slip away may be hard for the Raiders to shake anyway.
Before 11 hits and another economical outing from Victoria Mackey made the Raiders 4-3 winners in Game 2, they dropped the opener in nine innings, 3-2 - losing a lead going into the seventh inning for the first time in 21 chances this season, and losing the game when a playable pop to center field was mishandled and allowed the winning run to score.
SOU (28-12, 14-6 Cascade Conference), which swept OIT (22-15, 15-5) at home on March 29, remains a game behind the Owls for first place in the CCC West with eight left to play. The winner of the division will host the CCC tournament, where the conference's only two automatic berths to the NAIA tournament will be awarded. If it comes down to it, the Raiders now own the tiebreaker.
Mackey kept them in the hunt for a title, improving to 13-2 in her spectacular freshman season. She gave up six hits, struck out three, didn't issue a walk and didn't surrendered an earned run until Alyssa Davis' two-run homer in the seventh shrunk SOU's 4-1 lead.
Kelsey Randall, Alexa Gonzalez and Rebecca Velasquez had two hits apiece out of SOU's 11, all of which were singles. Randall, who went 4-for-9 on the day, led off the game with a hit, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and was driven in by Gonzalez's liner up the middle.
Velasquez stroked an RBI single in the third, and the Raiders made it 4-0 in the sixth on Megan Winton's sacrifice fly andNicole Cardoza's two-out hit to left.
OIT starter Kelly Scott went five innings and took the loss.
Sydney White was also tough on the Owls in Game 1 after working a nine-inning shutout against them last week. She went the distance again and blanked them through the game's first five innings.
Between Mackey and White, the Raiders yielded an average of less than two runs per seven innings against the Owls in the series. OIT, which boasts the highest-scoring offense in the CCC, is scoring almost eight runs per contest against the rest of the league.
The Raiders finally gave White a lead to work with when they cracked OIT starter Ann-Marie Guischer in the sixth. Gonzalez walked to lead off the frame and Kayleen Smith bunted her into scoring position, setting up Abigail Lund's two-out RBI single.
The Owls got even just three pitches into the bottom of the inning as Mackenzie Shrum singled and Tara Moates doubled her home. White eventually worked out of a bases-loaded jam and was rewarded in the seventh, when Randall's two-out hit to center scored Kaelynn Miller to make it 2-1. OIT answered again, though, with two singles to start the bottom half of the inning that led to Shrum's fielder's choice RBI. White preserved the tie by recording the last two outs with the bases loaded.
SOU stranded two runners in the eighth and wasted Taylor Martinez's leadoff single in the ninth. Moates and Ali Graham both singled to right with no outs in the bottom of the ninth and Tre Sullivan bunted them over.
Cassidy Hoglund then lifted White's 123rd delivery of the afternoon to the outfield, where the ball went from glove to ground as Moates trotted home without a play.
Guischer got the win, improving to 9-5 with a nine-hitter over 135 pitches.