Southern Oregon freshman Karlee Coughlin outdueled Cascade Conference Pitcher of the Year Sabrina Boyd and was backed up by error-free defense as the 20th-ranked Raiders beat No. 15 Corban 4-1 Monday to clinch the first CCC tournament title in program history at Warrior Field in Salem.
The victory wrapped up a perfect three-game run through the tournament and clinched for SOU the league’s second automatic bid to the 40-team NAIA Opening Round, May 15-17. The Raiders (40-12), who also matched the program’s record for wins, will find out who and where they will play next on Wednesday.
Southern Oregon entered the three-day, six-team tournament on a low note after splitting its final series of the regular season with fourth-place Eastern Oregon, but the Raiders routed Oregon Tech on Saturday, survived a nine-inning thriller against Corban (40-12), the CCC regular-season champion, on Sunday then beat Boyd for the second time in 24 hours Monday.
"They were ready to go from day one of this tourney," SOU head coach Jessica Pistole said. "We could all feel it and just believed we were better. They trusted each other, played with really good energy, and had a mentality that if it wasn't them getting it done, it'd be the person standing next to them."
Boyd was 19-2 with an ERA of 1.61 during the regular season, but the Raiders made her look mortal again Monday as Kayleen Smith, Harlee Donovan and Aailyah Oliver had two hits apiece to help SOU score four runs on 10 hits.
That was plenty for Coughlin, who held the Warriors to one run on six hits in a complete-game gem that came two days after she blanked OIT on four hits.
Southern Oregon led from beginning to end, getting on the board early when Smith stroked a double to left to score Kelsey Randall from first before Boyd recorded an out in the top of the first inning.
The Raiders made it 2-0 in the third when Donovan led off with a double and scored on a throwing error by Corban third-baseman Raimee Sludder.
The Warriors cut the deficit in half with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but the Raiders tacked on two more in the fifth on an RBI double by Taylor Martinez and an RBI single by Coughlin.
Corban, which needed to beat SOU twice Monday to claim the tourney title, threatened to rally in the sixth after Coughlin hit back-to-back Warriors to load the bases, but the 5-foot-5 righty from Live Oak, California, fielded a grounder by pinch hitter Danielle Ackerman moments later and threw to first to end the inning.
"I think this was our best week and I hope we keep riding this," Pistole said. "I don't think anything changes. We're very talented but it's a matter of finding that flow and leaving it all out there together. Right now, we're in a good place."
Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.