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Morehead-Hutsell's heroics boost SOU

ASHLAND — A statement weekend put third-ranked back Southern Oregon back in first place in the Cascade Conference and left No. 9 Oregon Tech licking its wounds after two more Raider wins on Sunday, 3-1 and 11-4 at University Field.

SOU (21-4 overall, 8-1 CCC) executed a proven formula to complete a three-game sweep of the CCC portion of the series in Game 1 — using a Gabby Sandoval gem and some clutch hitting for its fourth last at-bat win in conference play.

Sophomore center fielder Avery Morehead-Hutsell was the hero at the plate, stroking a two-out, three-run triple with the Raiders down to their final out in the top of the seventh.

Ali Graham had been working on a one-hit shutout for the Owls (18-10, 6-3) with two down and a runner on first. Hannah Wessel and Olivia Mackey extended the game with back-to-back singles that loaded the bases for Morehead-Hutsell, who drove Graham’s 1-0 delivery to the gap in left-center field.

Sandoval completed her two-hitter by retiring the side in order in the bottom of the inning. The junior — who on Saturday pitched a three-hit shutout and earned a second win in relief — gave up only an unearned run in the fourth, when OIT executed a double steal that plated Maddie DeVerna.

Now 14-1 with an ERA down to 1.19, Sandoval has gotten decisions in all eight of SOU’s CCC victories. In six conference starts, she’s allowed just four earned runs over 43 frames.

The Raiders broke out in Game 2 with five runs over the first three innings. Allie Stines went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, three RBIs and two runs. Tayler Walker doubled twice, hit a sacrifice fly and drove in a pair of runs, while Olivia Mackey added two hits with SOU’s fourth double and four runs. Lauren Quirke went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI.

SOU tacked on five runs in the seventh, where the Owls committed three of their six errors. Quirke finished off the win with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to improve to 3-1.

Five Owls had two hits apiece, including second baseman Kiahna Brown, who hit her sixth home run of the season.

The four-game sweep was SOU’s second of OIT in the last three years. Since the start of 2016, the Raiders have gone 15-3 against their rivals.

The Raiders are tied with 14th-ranked Corban atop the standings heading into next week’s home series against Northwest Christian.

Southern Oregon University freshman Avery Morehead-Hutsell rounds second, as St. Francis infielder Brooke Karraker looks on, at US Cellular Community Park on Wednesday.[PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR]