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SOU falls in CCC tourney opener

KLAMATH FALLS — Southern Oregon’s 17-game winning streak ended and its road to a Cascade Conference Tournament title got a little longer with a 3-1 loss to 15th-ranked Eastern Oregon on Friday evening at Stilwell Stadium.

In their first game of the CCC Championships presented by U.S. Bank, the No. 8-ranked and No. 2-seeded Raiders (46-11 overall) failed to push across an earned run for the first time since March against the same pitcher who last shut them out, Amanda Smith. EOU’s left-handed ace spun a three-hitter and Madison Stateler delivered the big blow, connecting for a three-run home run in the fifth inning.

The Raiders now must win four consecutive elimination games to capture the title, starting at 11:30 a.m. today against No. 5 seed British Columbia. If they advance, they’ll play another at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of an early-morning elimination matchup between No. 4 seed College of Idaho and No. 6 seed Corban.

EOU (41-13) moved on to play against top-seeded Oregon Tech for a spot in Sunday’s final round.

After leaving two on base in the first inning, the Raiders plated their lone run in the third when Deja Acosta led off with a single, stole second and scored on a wild throw.

SOU starter Cayla Williams surrendered just two singles through the first four innings. The Mountaineers put their first two batters on in the fifth with a single and a walk before Stateler, hitting from the leadoff spot, launched her fourth homer of the season to knock out Williams.

The Raiders brought the potential tying run to the plate in the seventh before Smith got Riley Donovan looking for her third strikeout to end it. She improved to 19-5.

Smith tossed a two-hitter earlier in the day in an 8-1 win against Corban. On March 20, she threw a seven-hit, eight-inning shutout in EOU’s 1-0 win at SOU. The Raiders went on to win the next three games of the series.

The Raiders last played an elimination game at the 2021 NAIA World Series, where they won five straight to claim the national championship.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSOU's Deja Acosta, shown in action earlier this season, scored the Raiders’ lone run on Friday.