Raiders continue charge toward CCC title vs. UBC
Rain may be the only thing that can slow down the third-ranked Southern Oregon University softball team, but for now the Raiders’ Cascade Conference series against British Columbia is still on for this Friday and Saturday at University Field.
The Raiders (28-5 overall, 14-1 CCC) saw their winning streak end at 11 games Saturday at Corban, though their streak in conference games remains active at 13. They’re up two games in the standings on College of Idaho and Oregon Tech and three ahead of Corban — OIT and Corban will beat up on each other this weekend in Klamath Falls, too — while UBC (12-12, 8-7) enters the final month of the regular season in fifth place.
Last Week In Review
SOU left Salem with a key three-game CCC sweep of 10th-ranked Corban — 9-4, 5-4 in nine innings and 1-0 — though the Warriors took the non-conference counter, 6-5. The Raiders scored their fifth and sixth last at-bat victories in CCC action and, dating back to last season, have now won their last eight conference games decided by one run. Against the Warriors, they got their first last at-bat win in Game 2 of the series thanks to a two-out Warriors error in extra innings and their second in Game 3 when Tayler Walker hit a seventh-inning double and Paige Leeper came through with the decisive RBI single.
Gabby Sandoval collected all three wins in the series, making her responsible for 13 of SOU’s 14 victories in CCC games, with the gem of the bunch being a three-hit shutout.
- Lauren Quirke continues to lead the CCC with a .457 batting average, as 22 of her 53 hits have gone for extra bases. Arguably more impressive, however, is the fact that she’s struck out just once in 127 plate appearances. The other key addition to SOU’s lineup, catcher Allie Stines (.389, 5 HR, 12 2B), has just two strikeouts in 132 plate appearances and they both occurred in the same game. Of the 10 Raiders with at least 50 at-bats, none have more than eight strikeouts.
- Quirke hit her third home run in Game 1 against Corban and went 4-for-5 in Game 2, her team-leading 16th multi-hit game. Hannah Shimek has 12, and she also leads the team with 20 stolen bases.
- SOU’s outfielders — primarily Tiana Brown, Olivia Mackey and Avery Morehead-Hutsell — have produced a .380 batting average with 78 runs scored and 50 RBI over 33 games. In 56 games, last year, Raider outfielders batted a combined .304 with 110 runs and 92 RBI.
- At 19-2 with a 1.18 ERA over 131 innings pitched, Gabby Sandoval is tied for the NAIA lead in wins and fourth in innings. On this date last season, she was 15-3 with a 2.32 ERA over 101 innings.
- The Thunderbirds were mired in a six-game losing streak — during which they were shut out three times — before ending it at Northwest Christian and taking three of four from Providence last weekend and scoring 26 runs in the series. They’re aiming for a spot in the six-team CCC Tournament for the third year in a row.
- As a team, they bat a respectable .310 with a .389 on-base percentage with Mia Valcke (.424, 8 XBH), Claire Eccles (.400, 7 XBH) and Cassa Courtney (.362, 9 XBH) leading the way. Their pitching staff sports a combined 4.40 ERA that ranks fifth in the conference. A victim of minimal run support, Kaia Gyorfi is 3-7 with a 3.02 ERA while Shelby Kempel is 6-4 with a 5.16 ERA.