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Raiders start strong in NAIA Opening Round

The Marymount lineup turned out to be more annoying than effective against Southern Oregon ace Gabby Sandoval in the Raiders’ first game of the NAIA softball opening round on Monday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

Sandoval needed 127 pitches to finish off the California Pacific Conference champion but saw through her 14th shutout nonetheless as the top-seeded and fourth-ranked Raiders started their trek through the Southern Oregon Bracket with a 5-0 victory.

Sandoval yielded four hits, struck out eight and walked two in her 31st victory, helping the Raiders go to 46-7 and move within potentially two wins of a third straight appearance in the NAIA World Series.

SOU next plays at 11 a.m. this morning against 11th-ranked and second-seeded Hope International (Calif.), which defeated Taylor (Ind.) 5-0 in Monday’s other contest.

The SOU-Hope winner will need to win just one of two games in Wednesday’s championship round of the double-elimination tournament for the title.

Sandoval labored through the first two innings, racking up 51 pitches, but by then she was already sitting on a 3-0 lead.

The Raiders knocked out Marymount starter DeAndria Lockett — the Cal Pac pitcher of the year — before she could get out of the first.

After an Allie Stines leadoff walk and Hannah Shimek’s bunt single, Lauren Quirke cleared the bases with an opposite-field triple, and Olivia Mackey later forced in a third run with a bases-loaded walk.

SOU’s bats went quiet against Mariners reliever Taylor Roberts until the fifth, when Mackey poked a two-run single up the middle after Paige Leeper and Taelor Mayben set the table with hits.

Sandoval, meanwhile, recorded 13 consecutive outs following Madison Loui’s double that led off the second inning.

The right-hander has given up four or fewer hits in 21 of 29 starts this season and lowered her postseason ERA to 0.43 through four complete games.

Stines went 2-for-3 with her team-record 25th double and a walk. Quirke’s team-high RBI total shot to 57 and Mackey’s to 22.

Marymount will play an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. today against Taylor. The winner of that contest will play another elimination game at 4 p.m. against the SOU-Hope loser.

Larry Stauth Jr. / For the TidingsSouthern Oregon University starting pitcher Gabby Sandoval tossed a complete-game shutout against Marymount at U.S. Cellular Community Park on Monday afternoon.
Larry Stauth Jr. / For the TidingsSouthern Oregon University outfielder Tiana Brown slides head-first into third base, past Marymount third baseman Kaytlynn Johnson at U.S. Cellular Community Park on Monday.