ASHLAND — Top-seeded Southern Oregon is two wins away from another Cascade Conference Tournament title after doubling five times in its opener Friday afternoon, a 5-2 win against No. 5-seeded British Columbia at University Field.
Next, the top-seeded and No. 8-ranked Raiders (42-12 overall) will have to go through No. 12 Corban, which was a 6-3 winner in its opener against No. 20 Oregon Tech. The teams will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday for the right to a spot in Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. final, while the loser will be directed to an elimination game at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Raiders looked the part of the defending champs early while scoring in each of the first four innings, and Gabby Sandoval’s shutout wasn’t broken up until the fifth in her ninth consecutive complete game. Sandoval (21-6), SOU’s sophomore ace, labored through a 107-pitch effort but survived nine hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts.
The defense play error-free behind her and the lineup did its part, sparked by Hannah Shimek’s 3-for-3 effort and Rebecca Velasquez’s two doubles. Kelsey Randall had a hit and a walk and scored a pair of runs, via a Harlee Donovan groundout in the first and a Donovan single in the fourth.
In between, Avery Morehead-Hutsell flared a double down the inside the foul line in left to score Hannah Wessel, who hit a double of her own, in the second. Morehead-Hutsell later scored on a throwing error, and the Raiders made it 4-0 in the third on an Olivia Mackey grounder after loading the bases with no outs.
Shimek had SOU’s fifth double against UBC starter Zoe Gillis, who exited after three innings of work.
Donovan ran her school-record on-base streak to 35 games, also raising her league-leading RBI total to 61 - just two short of the SOU record she established last year. Randall, meanwhile, pulled within one run scored of matching the CCC career record (221).
Claire Eccles — who drove in every run for the Thunderbirds (18-22) in their 3-2 win over Eastern Oregon to start the day with a homer and a double — got to Sandoval in the fifth with a two-run double to the gap.
UBC will open Saturday’s action with a 9 a.m. elimination game against No. 6-seeded Carroll. Oregon Tech and Eastern Oregon will follow with another elimination game at 11:30 a.m.