The Southern Oregon University softball team will look to improve its playoff positioning this weekend as it heads north for a pair of Cascade Collegiate Conference doubleheaders against Concordia and Northwest.
Southern Oregon (14-15 overall, 10-6 Cascade) will take on Concordia on Friday in Portland beginning at 2 p.m. The Raiders will then travel to Kirkland, Wash., for Saturday's doubleheader against Northwest beginning at 11 a.m.
The Raiders rank fourth in the conference standings, in line for their first conference tournament berth in three years. With the addition of Northwest to the league, the CCC changed the postseason format to include four teams instead of the three-team setup of recent years. The top four teams in the final league standings will travel to the site of the regular season champion to take part in a double-elimination tournament on May 2-3 to earn the conference's automatic bid to the NAIA Tournament.
Southern Oregon ranks fourth in the CCC in team batting (.288 average) and fifth in team pitching (3.91 earned run average) and team fielding (.954 percentage). Through 16 conference games, SOU second baseman Sierra Anderson ranks fifth in the CCC in batting (.413), with first baseman Jessica Flores a few spots back (.400).
Freshman Sydney White has stepped into the pitching circle and improved for SOU as the season has progressed, boasting a 2.60 ERA and a 6-3 record in 12 conference games. She appeared in all four games for the Raiders last weekend, pitching three consecutive complete-game two-hitters to earn CCC Red Lion Pitcher of the Week honors. She ranks second in the conference in appearances (12), wins (6) and innings pitched (62.0), while ranking third in strikeouts (48).
"She did a fantastic job last week and has done a fantastic job all year so far," SOU head coach Kim Fritts said of White's pitching.
Concordia ranks third in the conference standings with a 10-4 record, 25-14 overall. The Cavaliers have played two fewer games than the Raiders due to weather cancellations and Friday's doubleheader will give SOU a chance to sweep the four-game regular season series against CU. The Raiders claimed a pair of 5-4 extra-inning victories against the Cavs in Ashland on March 16 and boast a 41-22 all-time record against CU.
"Concordia, we all know is just a strong team," Fritts said. "We can't underestimate them in any way, shape or form. We had a strong start with them here at home, but going to their field is obviously a whole different story."
The Cavaliers are a balanced team led by a dominant pitching staff. In 14 conference games, CU leads the league in team ERA (1.55), while ranking second in team fielding (.964) and third in team batting (.303). Ashley Suter leads the CCC with a 1.07 ERA while ranking second in strikeouts (53) and third in innings pitched (52 1/3). Offensively, Robin Gawlista is hitting .425 during the conference season and Kate Santos has hit 14 total home runs.
"We're not going to change our game plan from the first time that we played them," Fritts said. "We're just going to go in and do the things that we need to do, and hopefully we come out on top like we did last time."
Northwest's first-year program has shown signs of growth since last month, when the Raiders swept the Eagles 9-2 and 6-3 in Ashland. They ended a 14-game losing streak with a doubleheader sweep of Eastern Oregon and have won three of their last six games to improve to 5-23 overall and 2-12 in league play.
The Eagles still rank in the bottom third of the league in the three major team stat categories, ranking sixth in pitching (5.38 ERA), seventh in fielding (.934) and eighth in team batting (.204). Hannah Ganfield has been the Eagles' bright spot in the lineup during the conference season, hitting .395 with a league-best eight doubles and two homers.
Vanessa Ahrendt leads the pitching staff with an earned run average of 4.54. But Fritts knows the Raiders can't take the Eagles lightly, especially late in the season as SOU is fighting for a postseason spot.
"They're scrappy, they fight and they're not going to roll over," Fritts said. "We're just going to have to go in and give it our best, and we're looking to have a strong weekend."
Prep Track and Field
The North Medford track and field teams scored dominant wins over Ashland in a nonleague meet at Bowerman Field on Wednesday.The Black Tornado boys cruised 124.5-20.5, while the girls won 89-54.
For North, Aaron Browne-Moore earned first in the 100-yard dash with a time of 11.18 seconds. He was also victorious in the 200 (23.04). Teammate Riley Driscoll won the long jump with an effort of 20 feet, 1 1/2 inches and captured first in the triple jump (42-5 1/2).
On the girls side, Emily Carlson claimed triumphs in the 100 (12.98) and long jump (16-10) for the Black Tornado, while Halley Folsom secured first in the 400 (1:02.02) and high jump (5-2). Teammates Jessica Pettegrew-Sam picked up victories in the 1,500 (5:29.53) and 3,000 (11:51.28) and Kendell Erb in the shot put (27-11) and discus (92-1).
TEAM SCORES — North Medford 124.5, Ashland 20.5.
100 — 1, Aaron Browne-Moore, NM, 11.18; 200 — 1, Aaron Browne-Moore, NM, 23.04; 400 — 1, Devyn Baldovino, NM, 53.16; 800 — 1, Jannik Ehrat, A, 2:11.81; 1,500 — 1, Ray Schireman, NM, 4:10.62; 3,000 — 1, Caleb Diaz, NM, 9:16.22; 110 HURDLES — 1, L.T. Hoak, NM, 17.42; 300 HURDLES — 1, Connor Covey, NM, 45.02; 4X100 RELAY — 1, North Medford (Nick Janakes, Luke Fotuallii, Tim Beick, Aaron Browne-Moore), 44.71; 4X400 RELAY — 1, North Medford (Devyn Baldovino, Luke Fotuallii, Tim Beick, L.T. Hoak), 3:37.03.
SHOT PUT — 1, Alafou Polataivao, NM, 44-6; DISCUS — 1, Issac Grether, NM, 123-5; JAVELIN — 1, Preston Chachere, NM, 160-10; HIGH JUMP — 1, Mario Filippi, NM, 6-0; POLE VAULT — 1, Brandon Vaughan, A, 12-6; LONG JUMP — 1, Riley Driscoll, NM, 20-1.5; TRIPLE JUMP — 1, Riley Driscoll, NM, 42-5.5.
TEAM SCORES — North Medford 89, Ashland 54.
100 — 1, Emily Carlson, NM, 12.98; 200 — 1, Olivia Rooney, A, 29.15; 400 — 1, Halley Folsom, NM, 1:02.02; 800 — 1, Christine Impara, A, 2:33.66; 1,500 — 1, Jessica Pettegrew-Sam, NM, 5:29.53; 3,000 — 1, Jessica Pettegrew-Sam, NM, 11:51.28; 100 HURDLES — 1, Maren Lightheart, NM, 19.17; 300 HURDLES — 1, Sarah Honeywell, A, 54.52; 4X100 RELAY — 1, North Medford (Jaci Brumble, Savannah Greenwade, Emily Carlson, Halley Folsom), 52.49; 4X400 RELAY — 1, North Medford (Savannah Greenwade, Genesis Tepper, Bethany Elliot, Jaci Brumble), 4:38.59.
SHOT PUT — 1, Kendell Erb, NM, 27-11; DISCUS — 1, Kendell Erb, NM, 92-1; JAVELIN — 1, Kelsey McKelvey, A, 117-0; HIGH JUMP — 1, Halley Folsom, NM, 5-2; POLE VAULT — 1, Diana Gilliland, A, 7-0; LONG JUMP — 1, Emily Carlson, NM, 16-10; TRIPLE JUMP — 1, Elle Bixler, NM, 31-10.5.