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Claussen, Spear, Meister earn All-American honors

The record-breaking careers of a trio of Southern Oregon University basketball players were sweetened Thursday when the NAIA All-America teams were announced by the national office.

After leading the Raider women's basketball team to its first national title game and going out with a team record 110 wins over four years, senior point guard Ashley Claussen was named to the first team and senior center Carly Meister received honorable mention. And, after making a team-record third career appearance at the national tournament, senior point guard Joel Spear was a second-team selection for the Raider men.

Claussen, the Cascade Conference Player of the Year, is the first SOU women's player since Nada Janackovic in 1999 to get first-team recognition, and Spear became just the fourth Raider men's player to ever land on the first, second or third team. The men's and women's first, second and third teams included 10 players each.

Claussen, who earned honorable mention accolades as a junior, went out as one of the best players to ever don a Raider uniform, ranking second on the program's career assists list (522), second in 3-point makes (203), fifth in steals (232), seventh in points (1,371). Though the Scotts Valley, Calif., native's senior season was cut short with an injury in the semifinal round, she posted career-highs of 17.8 points, 48-percent shooting from the field, a 43-percent clip from 3-point range and 86 percent at the free-throw line. She scored 20-plus points 16 times after doing so three times in her first three seasons and also broke SOU's single-season record for 3-point makes with 100.

Meister, a 6-foot-2 product of Elma, Wash., brought her career totals to 1,507 points (fourth on SOU's all-time list) and 826 rebounds (fifth). After missing the first five games of her senior year with an injury, she came back to average 13.2 points on 62-percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds and one block. She posted six double-doubles, giving her 22 for her career, and had an outstanding postseason in which she shot 67 percent (51-of-76) from the field over eight games.

Spear, who came to SOU four years ago from Adelaide, Australia, was not even picked to the preseason all-conference team prior to his All-American season. Compared to his junior campaign, the versatile 6-3 floor leader nearly doubled his averages in points (13.3), rebounds (6.3), assists (5.7) and steals (1.5) to become one of just four players in the nation who posted a line of at least 10 points, six boards and five assists. He scored in double figures 24 times — he'd done so just eight times in his first three seasons — and made 63 3-pointers compared to 18 a year ago, shooting 49 percent from the field and 43 percent from downtown. His 189 assists ranked four in SOU single-season history and his scoring average was the highest for a Raider point guard in head coach Brian McDermott's 20 seasons.

Spear and senior forward Jordan West, who went out with 1,398 points (11th-most in Raider history), totaled 97 wins in four years, a new program record.

College Softball

As usual, weather has thrown a wrench into the early portion of Southern Oregon University's softball schedule. But the Montana sky will allegedly be clear enough this weekend for the Raiders to start Cascade Conference play.

SOU (12-6 overall) will open with a road grind, playing three CCC twin bills in a five-day span on the road – today at Carroll (Mont.) (10-10 overall, 1-3 CCC), Sunday at Great Falls (Mont.) (8-6, 2-2) and Wednesday against 17th-ranked Corban (16-7, 2-0) at Hoodview Park in Clackamas. The Raiders were previously scheduled to play Tuesday at Corban and Wednesday at Northwest Christian, but the Corban contests were moved due to poor field conditions and the Northwest Christian contests have been postponed until a date that has yet to be determined.

The Raiders finished fourth in the CCC a year ago with a 13-15 record and were picked to finish fifth this year. This weekend's games will be their first of the conference variety against Carroll and Great Falls, who are now considered associate members of the CCC.

SOU had a successful preseason, going 3-1 against top-25 teams, but has only played one doubleheader since Feb. 21 because of rain. Following this road trip, the Raiders will play six home doubleheaders in a span of 12 days starting with matchups against Northwest University on March 25.

Leading Off: Kelsey Randall, Kayleen Smith and Alexa Gonzalez have provided the Raiders with a reliable top of the order, batting .395 with 32 of the teams 76 runs scored between them. Randall, an All-American shortstop, has picked up where she left off as a freshman: She's batting .431 and has an active hitting streak of 12 — just four short of matching the SOU record. Smith, a second baseman, is working on a nine-game hitting streak of her own and bats .386. The speedy duo of Randall and Smith has also combined for 18 stolen bases on 20 attempts and five triples; no other CCC team has more than three triples to this point. Gonzalez, meanwhile, has team-highs of five doubles and 16 RBIs.