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Top-ranked Raiders sweep conference awards

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU's Lauren Quirke makes a play at third base.

ASHLAND — As was typical in the regular season it reflected, the Cascade Conference softball awards voting ended up a Southern Oregon University sweep.

Lauren Quirke was named the player of the year, Gabby Sandoval the pitcher of the year, Riley Donovan the newcomer of the year and Jessica Pistole the coach of the year following the best regular-season run in conference history, the league office announced Thursday.

Quirke, Sandoval and Donovan were joined on the 18-person all-CCC first team by teammates Rylan Austin, Hannah Shimek and Allie Stines. Tayler Walker and Katrina Winterburn garnered second-team accolades, and Olivia Mackey earned honorable mention.

The Raiders also collected four Gold Gloves: one at catcher for Stines, another at first base for Walker, and two in the outfield for Mackey and Avery Morehead-Hutsell.

Pistole was voted the coach of the year for the fourth time in her six seasons at SOU. She’s helped the Raiders hold on to the NAIA’s No. 1 ranking for the duration of the season and guided them to a 45-3 overall record. They’re the first CCC team to accumulate fewer than two conference losses at 26-1, outscoring their opponents 250-45.

Quirke is SOU’s third player of the year and will have a strong case for the national award that is to be handed out next month.

The senior third baseman/pitcher from San Mateo, Calif., leads the conference in batting average (.482), slugging percentage (.787), on-base percentage (.517), hits (79) and RBIs (59).

In the circle, she’s third in wins (14-2) and ERA (1.72) with five shutouts and a perfect game to her credit. She’s struck out 102 and walked just 22 over 102 innings.

Sandoval — now the first Raider to win multiple pitcher of the year awards and a three-time all-CCC selection — wrapped up the regular season at 25-1 with a 1.28 ERA.

The senior right-hander has six more wins, six more shutouts (11) and four more complete games (23) than any other pitcher in the conference, along with the lowest opponents’ average (.192). She went 19-0 in CCC counters, of which she has won 26 straight since the start of last year.

Donovan, who shares catching duties with Stines and otherwise acts as the designated player, has been a force in the cleanup spot in her first season after transferring from San Mateo Community College. The junior is batting .456 with the CCC’s third-best slugging percentage (.752), hitting 20 doubles, six home runs and three triples to drive in 57 runs.

Donovan is SOU’s second consecutive newcomer of the year following Stines, who, as a senior, is enjoying her best season yet.

A left-handed catcher/left fielder, Stines leads the NAIA in doubles (30) and the CCC in triples (eight) and total bases (133). Her .459 batting average and .782 slugging percentage trail only Quirke among all conference players, and she’s a Gold Glove winner for the second time.

Shimek, a senior second baseman, is now a two-time all-CCC selection and boasts a career-best batting average at .435, topping the conference in runs (60) and stolen bases (27) and sharing the lead with Stines in and triples (eight).

Austin, a sophomore from Medford, landed on the first team in her first season as the team’s everyday shortstop by ranking sixth in the conference in batting average (.434).

Walker’s second-team nod made her a two-time all-CCC selection and the Gold Glove was her second. The senior hasn’t committed an error and is having another stellar season at the plate with a .383 average and 12 extra-base hits. Winterburn, playing a starting role for the first time as a senior in left field, has a .421 average and 11 extra-base hits.

Mackey, a senior right fielder, now owns two Gold Gloves and still hasn’t committed an error since her freshman year. A 2018 and ‘19 first-team selection, her .379 average is right in line with her career mark and she’s two hits away from becoming the third player in team history with 200.

Morehead-Hutsell earned her first Gold Glove as a center fielder. Along with strong glove work, she’s among the CCC’s leaders in average (.394) and just ended a 16-game hitting streak.