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Sandoval, Quirke lead Raiders in season-opening sweep

REDDING, Calif. — Between Gabby Sandoval's no-hitter and the back-to-back home runs launched by Riley Donovan and Lauren Quirke, the fireworks top-ranked Southern Oregon had been suppressing since last March started firing off rapidly in Friday's season-opening sweep at Simpson (Calif.).

The Raiders, playing SOU's first athletic competitions of any kind in the 2020-21 academic calendar, needed only five innings to wrap up a 12-0 win in Game 1 and held off the Redhawks for a 3-2 triumph in Game 2 at Simpson Softball Field.

Sandoval started the day with the 12th-most wins in NAIA history and accomplished in her latest a feat that had eluded her in the previous 90 by holding Simpson hitless. She struck out nine Redhawks and walked two for the fourth no-hitter in team history (and the first since Julianne Cree's in 2006) before returning in Game 2 for a two-inning save, stranding the potential tying run at third after allowing an unearned run in the seventh.

The Raiders hadn't hit an opening-game home run since 2013 until Quirke and Donovan became the first Raider teammates to go back-to-back in nine years during a six-run second inning. Quirke hit two doubles — as did Hannah Shimek and Allie Stines — to go with her three-run shot and recorded six RBIs, just one off the team's single-game record. Donovan, a junior transfer and the younger sister of 2018 NAIA Player of the Year Harlee Donovan, became the only Raider in the last 20 years to homer in her SOU debut and went 5-for-7 on the day.

Quirke shifted to the circle in Game 2 and pitched five innings to get the decision amid a toned-down offensive display. Run-scoring singles from Rylan Austin and Lauren Weinberg put SOU on top in the fourth before Stines made it 3-0 with an RBI groundout later in the frame.

Quirke allowed two hits and one run, striking out six and walking four, but exited after issuing a leadoff walk in the sixth. Sandoval entered and went on to strike out three more.

The Raiders have won 15 straight dating back to last season entering today's 2 p.m. twin bill at William Jessup.

Dating back to the 2019 national championship game, Sandoval has won 15 consecutive decisions. The shutout was the 29th of her career.

Shimek also had a big day at 5-for-8 with three runs scored, and Austin went 4-for-7. Avery Morehead-Hutsell tallied three of SOU's 29 hits on the afternoon.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU’s Gabby Sandoval delivers in the 3rd inning.