Photo by Bob Palermini, palermini.com
Southern Oregon University Athletics
Following their last season win in Columbus (which solidified the Raiders as back-to-back National Champions) and losing their 11 seniors, The SOU Softball team finally got to put their game-day cleats back on. Early January, the Raiders ranked 5th nationally in the preseason poll and 3rd in the Cascade Conference. The women’s team won the home opener with two wins against Simpson University.
Game One started offensively with Riley Donovan, a senior and an All-American catcher, hitting a home run in the first inning, which gave them the lead. The next score of the game was from Simpson in the third inning, which tied the game 1-1. In the bottom of the fourth, after Donovan hit a solid double, Rylan Austin, a senior shortstop, scored Donovan from a hit onto the left side of the field. It didn’t take long for Simpson to answer back. Simpson’s Marissa Rami pushed a double down the third baseline, and then one of their players squared up a ball to center field allowing for Rami to score, which brought the game to 2-2. But, the newcomer combo Deja Acosta, a junior transfer from Sacramento Community College, and Piper Love, a freshman from Corvallis, OR, produced a run in the fifth. From there, it was up to the pitching staff to shut down Simpson.
From the defensive side, the Raiders showcased sophomore Katie Machado. Machado finished her first full seven-inning game for the Raiders and only allowed seven hits and two runs. Machado finished the last two innings with four Ks, and the last play of the game was an outfield fly to Erika Marquez. The final score of the first game was 3-2.
Game Two started with Simpson trying to get revenge. Their first batter started with a shot up the middle, stole second, and then was batted in by Simpson’s four-spot hitter. However, the Raiders didn’t bounce back and score until the bottom of the fourth when Austin took the momentum back. Austin had a line-drive double onto the right side and was replaced with pinch-runner Kami Klapp, who scored shortly after Lauren Weinburg‘s single. Raiders Kailer Fulton, Abbi Covalt, and Sarah Kerling all pushed their way onto the base and set the stage for Acosta. Acosta’s hit up the middle broke down the Simpson defense and allowed for Fulton, Covalt, and Kerling to all score in one at-bat. The Raiders scored another four runs after Donovan started a rally in the fifth inning. Faith Moultrie, Jordan Henderson, Weinberg, and Fulton all scored, putting the score to 8-1. The last score of the game was from Kelly McKeown, who pinch-hit for Love. McKeown’s score ended the game in six innings, with the final score being 9-1.
From the pitching side for the Raiders, the second game started with transfer Savannah Berkowitz, who pitched the first two innings. Berkowitz was relieved by freshman Mayze Menefee who had her first collegiate debut. Menefee came in with bases loaded and ended the inning with three back-to-back Ks.
The Raiders were on the road against Simpson (Redding, CA.) on Sunday. They split the two games. The women’s team won the first game 3-0 and lost the second 5-6.
The next games for the softball team are February 11th against William Jessup and the 12th against Menlo.
The next home game series will be the start of conference season play for the women’s team. They will kick off conference play on February 25th and 26th against British Colombia, whom they haven’t played since 2019 because of travel restrictions.