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Top-ranked Raiders take two from Corban

SALEM — The No. 1-ranked Southern Oregon softball team did nothing to dispel its status as the Cascade Conference favorite Saturday while wrapping nonleague play with back-to-back wins against CCC rival and No. 23-ranked Corban, 6-3 and 5-1 at Warrior Field.

In Game 1, a strikeout that should have ended the top of the seventh inning and kept the teams tied turned instead into a wild pitch that enabled the Raiders to score the three runs that were the difference. And in the second half of the doubleheader, a day after throwing a perfect game, Lauren Quirke picked up more steam with a two-run home run and a complete game in which she allowed only an unearned run.

SOU will enter its conference-opening series next Friday and Saturday at Bushnell with an 11-1 record. Corban dipped to 5-6.

SOU ace Gabby Sandoval spotted the Warriors two runs in a shaky first inning in the opener, forcing both home by walking one batter and hitting another with the bases loaded. Tayler Walker brought the Raiders back with a solo homer in the second and an RBI single that scored Quirke after she singled and stole a base in the fourth.

The teams traded runs in the sixth — Riley Donovan had SOU’s run-scoring hit and Madison Wylie had Corban’s — and Allie Stines’ two-out double triggered a fortunate series of events for the Raiders in the seventh. Holly Gonzales got the next batter, Hannah Shimek, swinging for a third strike, but the ball bounced away and Shimek reached base as Stines streaked home. Quirke and Riley Donovan followed with consecutive RBI singles.

Sandoval’s 19th straight winning decision made her 6-0 on the season.

Quirke helped that cause by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored, then in Game 2 helped herself improve to 4-1. Her two-run shot in the first inning put SOU ahead for good, and her RBI double in the third was all the insurance she needed.

Quirke struck out four and walked one in a three-hitter. The weekend outings dropped her ERA from 5.25 to 2.90. The home run was her third of the season and second in as many days.

Stines went 3-for-4, extended her hitting streak to 10 games, and drove in a run that made it 4-1 in the fifth. Erika Marquez knocked in the other, and Shimek scored twice with two hits.

Since Corban’s four-game sweep of SOU in 2017, the Raiders have won 14 of 16 against the Warriors.