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Raiders suffer second straight loss at CCC tourney

ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon softball team’s first weekend slump arrived at an inopportune time in the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank.

A day after the No. 1-ranked Raiders lost at home for the first time in 45 games, they dropped another one Sunday afternoon against No. 15 College of Idaho, 6-2, denying their bid for a fourth consecutive tournament title.

The Yotes (38-16) went on to lose 1-0 in the final against Oregon Tech, which both they and SOU would have had to defeat twice to take the crown.

The Raiders (46-5) will find out Tuesday who will travel to Medford for their four-team bracket May 17-19 in the 40-team NAIA Softball Championships Opening Round.

They were shut out for the first time in 2021 Saturday against Oregon Tech, and College of Idaho’s strong defense paired with stellar pitching prevented them from getting going again.

They took a 1-0 lead in the third when an Allie Stines single drove in Katrina Winterburn, but left fielder Micha Fortune prevented a second run from scoring on the play by gunning down Avery Morehead-Hutsell at the plate.

In the fourth, Tayler Walker trimmed a two-run deficit to 3-2 with an RBI double, but with two outs in the inning Fortune prevented the tying run from scoring with a diving grab of Winterburn’s liner that looked bound for the gap in left-center.

In the fifth and sixth, C of I stifled rallies by turning double plays on Stines and Lauren Quirke.

Kylie Smith put C of I in front with a two-run single in the third, and Kaily Christensen followed with an RBI double that made it 3-1. In the fifth, Christensen extended the Yotes’ 3-2 lead with a softly-hit two-run single up the middle. Two runs allowed by the Raiders were unearned as they committed three errors for just the third time this season.

C of I’s Katelyn Wilfert got the win with five strong innings, and Hannah McNerney pitched two scoreless innings for the save. SOU starter Gabby Sandoval took her second loss in a row, dipping to 26-3.