REDMOND, Wash. — The Southern Oregon University softball team has its first playoff spot in four years cornered and its magic number down to one going into the final day of the regular season.
The Raiders' postseason prospects became considerably less precarious Friday as they did exactly what needed to be done in a pair of must-win games at lowly Northwest, prevailing 4-1 and 7-3 at Hartman Park. Stout complete games from pitchers Brianne Craig and Sydney White were backed by four-hit afternoons from Tyler Burke and Megan Scherer as SOU erased two early deficits.
Now all the Raiders (15-19 overall, 14-12 Cascade Conference) need to clinch the No. 4 seed in the CCC tournament is one win in Saturday's doubleheader at 25th-ranked Concordia, which begins at 3 p.m., or one Northwest Christian loss in its twin bill at Corban.
Craig improved to 7-5 in the CCC with a five-hitter in the opener. She conceded two hits, a walk and an Eagle run in the first inning before retiring 11 straight starting in the second.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, Craig hit a two-out flyball that was mishandled in right field and allowed Sierra Anderson to score the tying run. Burke, the very next batter, gave SOU the lead with a double.
Singles by Scherer, Craig and Burke loaded it in the sixth, and Ashley Lowe and Alexa Gonzalez drove in the insurance runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
The Eagles (2-30, 2-24) went up 3-1 in the fourth inning of Game 2 on Katelyn Riedinger's two-run homer before the Raiders took the lead with four runs in the fifth. Lowe drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly, Sulie Augustine's drive to left resulted in an error to tie it and Julia Willison's single knocked in the go-ahead run. Another two-out single by Scherer made it 5-3, and Augustine stroked a two-run single in the sixth.
Lowe went 2-for-2 with a walk, Willison went 2-for-4 and both had doubles in Game 2.
College Track and Field
At Gresham, Southern Oregon University's track and field teams got exactly what it needed Thursday and Friday at the Cascade Conference Multi-Event Championships at Mt. Hood Community College.
Constituted efforts by Amelia Maguin, Lauren McGowne and Anna Reitman in the heptathlon helped the Raider women bank a total of 14 team points toward the CCC Championships, which was more than any other team could say. Anthony Neal's fourth-place effort in the decathlon meant six points for the Raider men.
Maguin placed second, a one-spot improvement over last year, as a result of winning the 800-meter race with a personal best — 2 minutes, 21.38 seconds — to end the competition. She began Friday by taking third in the long jump (16 feet, 101/4 inches). On Thursday, she set a PR in the 200 (25.73) and the 100-meter hurdles without wind assistance (15.57), placing second in both events.
Maguin finished with 4,255 points, a new best by 53 and No. 11 on the NAIA performance list.
College of Idaho's Jasmine Hurd, who repeated as champion, had 4,482.
McGowne had a five-point lead in second place over Maguin going into the final discipline, but the freshman settled in fourth. She won the long jump with a leap of 17-51/2; a day after winning the high jump, and her marks in the javelin (82-6) and 800 (2:43.49) were big improvements even though she finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
McGowne, also the Northwest Region Freshman of the Year in volleyball, totaled 3,988 points — just five short of third-place Holly Pfaff of Concordia. Her total was 419 points better than her first shot at the heptathlon March 13-14 at Pacific.
Neal, who was in third place with one half of the decathlon down thanks to strong showings in the jumps and the 100, locked into fourth place after Friday's first event and stayed there. The freshman finished with 4,999 points, placing fourth Friday in the pole vault (10-4), fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (18.56) and long jump (84-5), sixth in the 1500 (5:09.35) and seventh in the javelin (115-2).
Despite missing two weeks recently due to sickness, Reitman, another freshman, contributed a point for the Raiders by ending with a third-place showing in the 800 with a collegiate PR, 2:25.29.
"I think everything went according to plan," Raider head coach Grier Gatlin said. "Lauren and Amelia improved, Anna helped even though she had been extremely sick, and Anthony did a good job, too. Conditions the first day were horrendous but everyone competed really hard anyway."
College of Idaho's Austin Basterrechea won the decathlon for the second year in a row with 6,601 points. The Corban men collected 16 team points led by Jordan Hatfield's second-place finish, and Oregon Tech's Anthony Padilla was third.
The CCC Championships resume May 9-10 in Nampa, Idaho. Next weekend the Raiders will be at the Pacific Twilight and the Oregon State High Performance meets.