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RAIDER ROUNDUP: Parade for SOU softball champs Wednesday

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ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University will commemorate the Raider softball team’s second consecutive NAIA national title with a championship parade on Wednesday in Ashland, inviting fans, students, staff and alumni to join.

The parade is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., when the team will begin to make its way from the Ashland Safeway to the bandshell in Lithia Park.

There, at 4 p.m., the celebration will conclude with a trophy presentation.

Fans are encouraged to wear red.

The Raiders, who were to fly into the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport Thursday evening, completed a 55-6 season with five straight elimination wins at the NAIA World Series, clinching the championship Wednesday with back-to-back wins against rival Oregon Tech in Columbus, Georgia.

DONOVAN MVP: A ninth-inning, tiebreaking home run in Southern Oregon’s softball championship clincher was just the cherry on top of a scorching stay at the South Commons Softball Complex for Riley Donovan, who was named the NAIA World Series MVP.

The junior from Half Moon Bay, California, was joined by four Raider seniors on the all-tournament team: third baseman/pitcher Lauren Quirke, pitcher Gabby Sandoval, second baseman Hannah Shimek and catcher Allie Stines.

Donovan, SOU’s cleanup hitter, served as the designated player in all seven games and went 11-for-17 with two home runs, two doubles, eight RBIs and seven runs scored. She also drew a team-high seven walks, giving her an on-base percentage of .760.

Donovan struggled in her first postseason as a Raider through the Cascade Conference Tournament and NAIA opening round, totaling two hits in six games.

That changed in a hurry in Georgia, where she homered and doubled in Tuesday’s win over College of Idaho to get the Raiders to the final round, then hit her eighth home run of the year to break a 5-5 tie in Wednesday’s winner-take-all, extra-inning finale against Oregon Tech. Quirke, the 2019 World Series MVP, went 12-for-24 with a home run, a triple, two doubles, eight RBIs and six runs scored. She also went 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA as a pitcher and got the decision in Wednesday’s clincher against Oregon Tech with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Sandoval excelled again in the circle, going 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA while handling 33 innings. She pushed her season record to 32-4 and finished her career with 122 wins, tied for the second-most in NAIA history.

Shimek batted .423 at the tourney and logged a pair of triples against the Owls, and Stines finished the tourney with a .370 average and four extra-base hits. They scored seven runs each.

Track and Field

DANIEL HONORED: Arianna Daniel, already the owner of more hardware than any sprinter to ever run for Southern Oregon University, has been named the 2021 Cascade Conference Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

The announcement, made by the CCC office Thursday after a vote by the league’s coaches, was preceded by another superlative showing from Daniel last week at the NAIA Outdoor Championships in her final meet as a Raider.

Running in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Daniel was the national runner-up in the 400 meters and pushed SOU’s 4x100 relay team to fifth place.

The product of Elk Grove, California, finished her career as a nine-time overall NAIA All-American, a 12-time CCC champion and a 19-time All-CCC performer.

At this year’s CCC Championships, she broke meet records while completing career sweeps in the 400 (55.39) and 4x100 (46.56) placed second in the 200 and third in the 100.

Daniel was also named the NAIA West Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year two weeks ago.

On SOU’s all-time performance lists, Daniel will depart with the No. 1 spot in the 200 (24.32), No. 2 in the 400 (55.24) and No. 3 in the 100 (11.94). She was also part of the four fastest 4x100 teams in Raider history — they broke their own record again in the NAIA Championships prelims, finishing in 46.44 — and the four fastest 4x400 teams.

In SOU track and field history, only Jessa Perkinson has more All-America honors.

Daniel is the fifth Raider to win the CCC Women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year award. Three different Raiders have won it in the last six seasons.