MEDFORD — Two Cascade Conference rivals accustomed to playing deep into May got an advance look at each other in an impromptu doubleheader Saturday at US Cellular Community Park, and the Southern Oregon University softball team liked what it saw.
The third-ranked Raiders opened their season with two wins against No. 16 Corban, 8-0 and 3-2, as Gabby Sandoval pitched a six-inning shutout in Game 1 and Paige Leeper squeezed home Taelor Mayben with one out in the eighth inning of Game 2 in the non-conference counters.
The teams were both scheduled to take on Simpson (Calif.) and Menlo (Calif.) on Saturday in Redding, Calif., but were turned around by a flooded field and agreed to meet in Medford not long after. SOU's games originally scheduled for Sunday have also been called off.
The Raiders' excitement to start the season was apparent in the opener, when they put up four runs in a first inning highlighted by a Rebecca Velasquez two-run double to the left field fence. Allie Stines and Lauren Quirke also singled in the inning; a Tayler Walker squeeze bunt and Paige Leeper's groundout played the other runs.
It was more than enough for Sandoval, a junior coming off a 27-6 campaign. She worked around six hits and two walks with six strikeouts during her 107-pitch outing.
The Raiders totaled 13 hits in the game as Avery Morehead-Hutsell, Hannah Shimek, Quirke, Stines and Velasquez had two apiece. Walker added an RBI single in the second, Quirke hit a two-run shot up the middle in the fourth, and Shimek chased home Morehead-Hutsell with a liner to center field in the sixth, triggering the mercy rule.
Quirke, a junior, made her debut in the circle in Game 2, allowing three hits and a run with five strikeouts through 5 1/3 innings. Morgan Jones got the win in relief, giving up just one unearned run and two hits as she finished the job. She got help in the eighth (when the international tiebreaker was in effect) from Shimek, who cut down two Warriors at the plate.
With Mayben at second to start the bottom half of the eighth, Velasquez bunted her over and Leeper bunted her home with a well-placed poke to the right side.
Mahina Chong gave Corban the lead with a first-inning solo home run, but Miranda Sutter and Tiana Brown knotted the score with back-to-back doubles in the second. In the fourth, Brown singled home leeper to make it 2-1.
Corban tied the score with one out in the seventh. After Sam Woodley reached second base on an error, Megan Rybar doubled her home.
Alyssa Vidal took the loss despite three solid innings of relief.
SOU's Hannah Wessel went 3-for-3 in Game 2 while Leeper and Shimek joined Brown with two hits apiece.