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SOU ROUNDUP: Raiders fall to OIT in CCC semis

ASHLAND — Oregon Tech guard Seth Erickson burned Southern Oregon again Saturday night, but this time his playmaking translated to an Owls win in the semifinal round of the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank.

Erickson, a senior NAIA All-American, scored eight of his 21 points in the final four minutes to break open a tie game and lead eighth-ranked OIT to a 70-65 defeat of No. 7 SOU in front of a capacity crowd at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

The Owls (26-6) will attempt to secure the CCC’s second automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament in Tuesday’s title game at top-ranked College of Idaho. It’ll go to the Raiders (23-7) if OIT falls — by virtue of finishing second to C of I in the regular season — but both teams are locks to at least receive at-large spots when the 32-team field is announced Wednesday.

Erickson — who scored 37 in the teams’ first matchup in Ashland, but watched OIT squander a 17-point lead in a 77-76 SOU win — lifted the Owls after the Raiders erased what had been a 50-37 deficit four minutes into the second half.

Tied 60-60, he took an assist from Mitchell Fink to lay in the go-ahead bucket with 3:29 to go, then hit back-to-back jumpers from 10 feet out to extend the lead to six with two minutes left.

The Raiders had their chances despite a 38-percent shooting night. But after Aaron Borich fed Conor Carroll for the game-tying hoop with 5:15 to go, they committed three straight turnovers — including two in transition — with chances to take the lead.

While Erickson went 7-of-10, Fink was held to 6-of-17 shooting and coaxed into committing seven turnovers, though he still created ample offense with 13 points and eight assists in directing the Owls to a 50-percent clip from the field.

Teron Bradford and Jordan Hunt scored 13 apiece to lead SOU. Tez Allen recorded 12 points and three steals, and hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half that kept the Raiders in the fight. Carroll contributed 10 points, shooting 4-of-9 off the bench.

Garret Albrecht was a beneficiary of Fink’s playmaking, hitting all four of his attempts from the field to score 11 points while pulling down a game-high 12 boards. Harrison Steiger added 11 points.

OIT held Borich and Tate Hoffman, SOU’s top scorers during conference play, to 3-of-22 combined shooting.

Softball

RAIDERS FINISH SWEEP OF EOU: At Ashland, Southern Oregon made quick work of Eastern Oregon again, completing a four-game sweep of a Cascade Conference series and running its overall winning streak to nine games at University Field.

In the third and final CCC counter of the set, the top-ranked Raiders (19-3 overall, 6-0 CCC) sent 11 batters to the plate and scored eight runs in the fifth inning to finish off a 12-4 victory, ending it on Hannah Shimek’s two-out RBI double to the fence. In the nonleague affair, the Raiders took their fourth run-rule shortened win of the weekend, 8-0 in five innings behind sophomore pitcher Jordyn Ragan’s one-hitter.

Raider ace Gabby Sandoval upped her record to 11-0 with a complete game in the opener, though a pair of unearned runs left her down 3-1 in the third inning. SOU got three back in the fourth, where Hannah Wessel executed a successful squeeze bunt and Olivia Mackey knocked a two-run double.

It was 4-4 before the Raiders unloaded with seven hits in the fifth, at one point putting six straight batters on base. Lauren Quirke went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI and Mackey went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run. Page Leeper and Abbie Lewis both had two hits, and Tayler Walker hit a two-run single that made it 7-4 in the fifth.

Sandoval allowed four hits and two earned runs in total. She struck out five and walked one.

Ragan followed up with the first shutout of her young career and third consecutive victorious start. Her aggressive approach yielded four strikeouts and just one walk, as 49 of the 73 pitches she threw went for strikes.

Quirke’s RBI triple and Katrina Winterburn’s run-scoring single spotted her a 2-0 lead in the first. The Raiders tacked on three more in the second, and freshman Lindsey Stripling’s bases-loaded, bases-clearing triple in a pinch-hit spot made it 8-0 in the third.

Winterburn had two of SOU’s nine hits and Mackenzie Evangeleist scored twice. Mackey, Quirke, Avery Morehead-Hutsell and Allie Stines registered a run and an RBI apiece.

EOU dropped to 3-15 and 2-4 in CCC play.

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