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SOU storms back into championship picture

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Southern Oregon’s Allie Stines slides home on a wild throw from first base in the sixth inning against College of Idaho at the NAIA Softball World Series Tuesday. Photo by Darrell Roaden.

SOU Sports Information

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Southern Oregon took the scenic route to the championship round of the NAIA Softball World Series.

In the spirit of maximizing entertainment value, the final stretch of the Raiders’ journey will be spent with their archrivals, the Oregon Tech Owls Wednesday.

SOU won its second and third consecutive games in the elimination bracket Tuesday at the South Commons Softball Complex, turning in matching 9-0 victories over Bethel (Kan.) and College of Idaho and activating the mercy rule in the sixth inning of each.

To complete their national title defense, the top-ranked Raiders (53-6) — after breaking the school record for wins for the fourth time since 2017 — will have to get two more against the Owls (48-8), who are 3-0 as the No. 2 seed at the double-elimination tournament and enter the matchup having won 14 straight.

First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Pacific Time. If the Raiders force a second game, they’ll play it at 5 p.m.

They discarded Bethany (32-29) and College of Idaho (44-19) handily with their first run-rule wins of the postseason.

Lauren Quirke pitched the first shutout against Bethany, a three-hitter in which she struck out nine Swedes and also dominated at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a home run, a double, four RBIs and two runs scored.

Gabby Sandoval threw the second, bouncing back from Saturday’s loss to the Yotes with a five-hitter on 80 pitches.

“They were just so dialed in,” SOU coach Jessica Pistole said of Quirke and Sandoval. “It helped that the defense was great behind them and there was a shift with our bats. It felt like we were operating on all cylinders and that’s the looseness we’ve played with for a lot of the year.”

The same could not be said for C of I, which had won its last two matchups against SOU in the Cascade Conference Tournament and Saturday’s winners’ bracket semifinal. The Yotes, seeded No. 4 at the tournament, gave away the first four runs unearned on three errors in the third and fourth innings.

In the fifth, Riley Donovan smashed her seventh home run of the season to make it 5-0. Allie Stines hit a two-run double in the sixth, her second of the game and NAIA-leading 34th of the season, as the Raiders piled on four more.

Donovan went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk. Avery Morehead-Hutsell went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Olivia Mackey had two hits and scored twice.

Sandoval improved to 31-4 and Quirke to 16-2. The home run, a solo shot, was her 11th of the season. It came after Stines put the Raiders up 2-0 over Bethany with a second-inning triple.

Quirke went on to lace a two-run double in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth, where Rylan Austin tacked on a two-run hit.

Only one of the last 11 national champions have come out of the elimination bracket.

The Raiders took three of four from Oregon Tech in the regular season, but the Owls beat them 5-0 on their way to the CCC Tournament title in their last matchup.

“We just need to continue to do what we’re doing and come out with the same expectation we always have,” Pistole said. “This team is fired up right now.”

It’s the first time since 2014 that two teams from the same conference were the last left standing.

Two CCC foes haven’t met for a national title in any sport since Western Oregon and Northwest Nazarene in the 1995 NAIA women’s basketball final.

Southern Oregon Raiders’ Aline Stines at-bat against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Riley Donovan at-bat against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Gaby Sandoval pitching against the College of Idaho in the 2nd inning of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Olivia Mackey at-bat against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Olivia Mackey out at first base in the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Allie Stines crosses home plate for the first run of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Lauren Quirke rounds 3rd base to home plate for the 2nd run of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Gaby Sandoval pitching against the College of Idaho in the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Gaby Sandoval pitching against the College of Idaho’s Kally Christensen in the 2nd inning of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Riley Donovan in the dugout cheering her teammates during the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at Columbus, Ga
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Avery Morehead-Hutsell crosses home plate in the 4th inning of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Katrina Winterburn in the dugout cheering, watching her teammates during the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at Columbus, Ga
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Riley Donovan hits it over the center-field fence for a home run in the 5th inning of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Riley Donovan hits it over the center-field fence for a home run in the 5th inning of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Riley Donovan hits it over the center-field fence for a home run in the 5th inning of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Riley Donovan rounds third on an over-the-center-field fence home run in the 5th inning of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga
Hannah Shimek makes a diving catch in the 5th inning of the game against the College of Idaho in the semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Olivia Mackey bunts in the 6th inning of the game for a base hit against the College of Idaho in the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.
Southern Oregon Raiders’ Avery Morehead-Hutsell connects for a double driving in Olivia Mackey in the 6th inning of the game against the College of Idaho semi-finals of the NAIA Softball tournament, Tuesday, June 2, 2021, at Columbus, Ga.