Red-hot Raiders sweep No. 15 College of Idaho

ASHLAND — As made clear by two statement wins over 15th-ranked College of Idaho, the Southern Oregon University softball team isn't budging.

Brianne Craig and Sydney White stumped the Coyotes in two complete games, the SOU lineup struck early twice and the Raiders never trailed in their third straight sweep, prevailing 6-2 and 2-0 on Saturday at University Field. At 7-1 in the Cascade Conference, they're off to their best start in five years.

SOU (8-8 overall) will put its six-game win streak on the line Monday against 22nd-ranked Oregon Tech (15-5, 8-0) in a showdown for first place at University Field. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.

A recurring formula helped the Raiders pile onto the hardships accrued by College of Idaho (12-8, 4-4) during an 0-4 road trip in which it failed to score more than two runs in a game. SOU scored first for the fourth and fifth straight games — pinning three runs on the Coyotes in the first inning of the day as Sulie Augustine crushed a two-run triple before Julia Willison brought her home with a sacrifice fly; and getting the only run it needed in Game 2 when Willison's first-inning grounder resulted in a fielding error that allowed Alexa Gonzalez to score.

Gonzalez added her second single in the fifth inning for an insurance RBI in support of White.

White conceded three hits and struck out five in her shutout. Craig allowed four hits, only needing one strikeout as she coaxed the Coyotes into 16 groundouts in an efficient 83-pitch outing. Both SOU starters have won three straight decisions.

Ashley Van Horne's third-inning triple in the opener drove in the Coyotes only runs and cut SOU's lead to 3-2.

Ashley Lowe had the answer in the fourth, padding the Raider lead with a two-run double down the left field line. She stroked a pair of hits along with Sierra Anderson and Tyler Burke, who scored twice from the leadoff spot.

Lowe is 11-for-20 during her active six-game hitting streak.

Craig went on to retire 12 of the last 13 C of I batters, and White got out of her only real jam when she wiggled out of a two-on, one-out situation in the sixth.

Cortni Pena, the Coyotes' Game 2 starter, was a tough-luck loser after giving up just three hits and one earned run. She fanned five.

Track and Field

HORNET INVITATIONAL — At Sacramento, Cary Dunagan, Eric Avila and Amelia Maguin came away with wins and the latter two became automatic NAIA Championship qualifiers to highlight Southern Oregon's efforts.

Avila cruised to a victory in the 800-meter dash by more than a second in the 49-person field at Hornet Stadium, easily becoming SOU's second automatic qualifier for the NAIA Outdoor Championships with a personal-best time of 1:50.89. It was the third-best time in school history, just missing the mark of 1:50.22 that Matt Battaglia established two years ago.

Dunagan and the Raiders dominated the 5,000-meter run, which he won in 15:04.50. Kevin Jorgensen was second in 15:07.50 and Zach Boyd-Helm took third out of 31 runners in 15:07.89.

Jonz Olander was a shade off an automatic qualifying time in the men's 400-meter dash. He claimed fifth of 39 runners in 48.70 seconds. Devan Barkley's time of 55.97 in the 400-meter hurdles made him ninth but was two seconds off an NAIA qualifying time.

On the women's side, Maguin won the 400-meter hurdle in an 18-person field in 1:00.56. She cleared the NAIA automatic mark time by over three seconds, making her SOU's third qualifier after Stephanie Techler did it in the pole vault last week.

Rebecca Lupescu placed third out of 17 in the 5,000-meter run in 18:17.11. Lauren McGowne was sixth in the long jump (17-3.25) and Holly Haga claimed ninth in the discus (122-10).

"We had a good meet overall, but we're obviously very young in some key events," SOU head coach Grier Gatlin said. "We need to get a lot better."

The Raiders accumulated 39 points on the men's side, sixth out of 22 teams overall. California's 182 were the most. Sacramento State dominated the women's events with 113 points and the Raiders' 26 made them ninth out of 19 squads.

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