SOU Softball Loses in Conference Semifinals

Gary Fanelli, Staff Writer

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Alexa Gonzalez, Photo by Al Case

Southern Oregon University softball lost 3-2 in the semifinals to Great Falls in Sunday’s Cascade Conference Softball Tournament at University Field. The loss prevented the Raiders from advancing on to the championship game and receiving an automatic berth to the NAIA playoffs, but they still have a chance at receiving an at-large bid.

During the three-day tournament, SOU also fell to Eastern Oregon (12-11) but won against Oregon Tech (4-2) and Corban University (16-5).

Game 1

During the first inning, Eastern Oregon produced 18 hits and three runs. They came back with six more runs in the second inning and another one in the third.

While the Mounties were up 10-4 during the fourth, SOU’s Kelsey Randall hit a grounder allowing Abigail Lund and Megan Winton to make two runs. Following this, Kayleen Smith and Rebecca Velasquez hit RBI singles and Tyler Burke hit a double, allowing Smith and Velasquez to score and tie the game at 10.

Eastern scored two more in the bottom of the fourth, putting the Raiders in a 12-10 hole. SOU’s Kelsey Randall snuck in a run during the top of the sixth off of Kayleen Smith’s hit to make the final score (12-11).

Game 2

Scoring did not begin until the bottom on the fifth inning, when OIT snuck in a run to put them ahead (1-0). In the top of the sixth, Megan Winton hit a single to allow Tyler Burke to come home and tie the game. Then during the top of the ninth, Jazmin Ruvalcaba hit a single allowing Aaliyah Oliver to put the Raiders ahead (2-1). Just minutes later, both Amelia Hensler and Megan Winton made RBI singles, to put the Raiders ahead for good, 4-2.

Game 3

Just hours after defeating OIT, the Raiders came back for more against Corban. During this blowout game, the Raiders scored 11 runs off seven Oregon Tech errors. In the fifth inning, Corban had five errors, and SOU lead 7-5. The Raiders pulled away during the top of the fifth with runs made by Winton, Lund, Oliver, Randall, Smith, Hensler, Burke, and Velasquez to put the Raiders at a 16-5 lead. This game ended at the bottom of the fifth due to mercy rule when Sydney White pitched a perfect inning.

Game 4

The Raiders put up a fight against University of Great Falls in the semifinal defeat.

In the first inning SOU took the lead 1-0 when Smith got to second from two errors and Burke brought her home with a single to left field. At the top of the third, however, SOU dropped a fly allowing UGF to score. SOU gained another run in the fifth, but shortly following that in the sixth, UGF tied the game then pulled away with another run in the seventh.

Finally, in a double play that cost SOU the game –  Alexa Gonzalez hit a single, placing runners at first and second base. Smith then hit a grounder to the shortstop, who turned the double play to end the game.

“This whole tournament we battled, we were resilient, we fought, and the girls did a great job,” said Head Coach Jessica Pistole whose team has a current season record of 36-16.

Pistole said the Raider softball team has been putting in work, training since September, to pull off making it thus far. “These girls have been busting their tails this whole year,” Pistole said. “I haven’t had a harder working group.”

Looking into next season, Pistole wishes to improve upon the team’s defense and is hopeful that incoming players will be assets to the team. “We need to work on the little things. In this game we handed out runs that shouldn’t have happened. It’s something little but that’s everything. We have to keep doing the little things and lay a foundation. We have a good group coming in next year and the seniors who will be leaving us have laid a good foundation.”

Because the Raiders lost in the semifinals there is no guarantee that they will be granted a NAIA playoff berth. Seeding for the 40-team national tournament will be released in the next couple days.

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