The Southern Oregon softball team hosts the 2012 SOU Tournament this week, with five teams playing 13 games from Thursday through Saturday at U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford.

The Southern Oregon softball team hosts the 2012 SOU Tournament this week, with five teams playing 13 games from Thursday through Saturday at U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford.

Southern Oregon, 3-3, returns to action after taking one week off following the Simpson Tournament. The Raiders lost a pair of close games to nationally ranked Azusa Pacific (No. 11) and Concordia-Irvine (No. 8) and picked up wins against Holy Names (8-5), Patten (5-1) and Menlo (10-1).

"We played some tough competition and did really well against them," SOU head coach Kim Fritts said. "We walked away with one beating on us, but that's OK; it's a learning experience."

The Raiders will play a pair of games on Thursday, facing Simpson at 4 p.m. and Great Falls at 6 p.m. They will have a rematch with Great Falls on Friday at 1 p.m. and conclude the tournament with an 11 a.m. game against Simpson and a 1 p.m. game against UGF on Saturday.

Defending NAIA champion Oregon Tech will also play, as will another Cascade Conference team, Concordia.

"It will be nice to be close to home and not have to travel," Fritts said. "We have Concordia University and OIT at our tournament as well, and it's always nice to have a team like that come and represent our conference really well."

Simpson is 6-4 and looks to continue its success of recent years. It was the 2010 Cal Pac champion and in 2011 went 34-19.

Great Falls opens the 2012 season here. The Argonauts were 16-15 last year. Pitcher Alyse Sifuentes leads the group of returners after posting a 3.91 ERA last season with 7.95 strikeouts per game.

Through the first six games, Southern Oregon has compiled a .297 team batting average and averaged six runs per contest.

Jessica Flores picked up five hits in six at-bats at the Simpson Tournament, giving her a batting average of .833. She drove in seven runs. Irene Barrantes hit a pair of home runs to put her in double figures for her career and tie her for the third most in program history.

The Raider pitching staff has tallied a 4.72 ERA. Jordyn Kurtz leads the SOU pitching staff with a pair of wins, while Chelsea Talbert has struck out 12 batters in 8 2/3 innings.

"We're feeling pretty confident in our program," Fritts said.

"The kids have been working hard on the things that they needed to do to improve, and I'm really anxious to get out there and see them put those improvements to work."