Although their quest for a spot in the conference tournament fell short, the Raiders’ final weekend of the 2012 softball season will feature numerous intriguing storylines.
Southern Oregon, 20-17 overall and 10-11 in Cascade Collegiate Conference play, will face Oregon Tech at US Cellular Fields in Medford on Friday at 2 p.m. before traveling to Eugene for a season-ending doubleheader against Northwest Christian on Saturday.
Friday’s game will give the Raiders a chance to earn a season split against their rivals and the defending NAIA champions. It will actually be the conclusion of a game the teams began on April 17, with the teams resuming play in the top of the second inning with the Raiders holding a 3-0 lead with a runner on first and Kara Kelsey at the plate with a 1-0 count.
“We’ll get that game going and finished up, hopefully finish strong with a win there against the defending national champions,” SOU head coach Kim Fritts said.
The game was held due to rain in Klamath Falls, and the lengthy break will mean the inning and at bat will have taken nearly 10 days to complete. Since Kelsey originally stepped to the plate and took a first-pitch ball, the SOU right fielder has batted eight other times and tallied four hits in four other games, making the at bat the longest and most productive in SOU history.
Southern Oregon won three of four games on the road last weekend as the Raiders held on to slim postseason hopes. However, Concordia clinched the third and final conference tournament berth (behind OIT and Corban) with a doubleheader sweep of Northwest Christian on Tuesday.
Saturday will offer the Raiders a chance to finish off a season sweep of the Beacons, after SOU defeated NCU 3-2 and 6-2 in Ashland on April 6. Northwest Christian is seventh in the conference standings with a 4-18 record, 8-33 overall, and the Raiders are 35-7 all-time against the Beacons.
The doubleheader against NCU will also mark the end of the playing careers for SOU seniors Katie Moy, Jordyn Kurtz and Brooke Springer. Moy enters the final week of the season two hits shy of tying the SOU career record. She already owns the SOU career records for doubles (43) and total bases (240), and she will have a chance to tie or break Haley Varley’s hit record of 169.
“We’re excited to watch Katie hopefully conquer that and maybe have a few more hits than three,” Fritts said of the hit record.
Kurtz will end her career ranked second in SOU history in strikeouts (381), innings (464) and complete games (57), also ranking third in wins (39) and fourth in shutouts (seven). She’ll have a chance this weekend to add to each of those totals.
Julia Willison and Stephanie Vandenbusch will have three more games to determine the team home run leader. Both players enter the final week tied for the team lead with eight homers, although Vandenbusch hit her ninth in the top of the second inning of the suspended game against OIT, giving her a one-homer lead as soon as the teams take the field on Friday.