ashland.news
June 14, 2024

Softball: Raiders back in World Series after eliminating Marian

Photo courtesy of Marian Sports Info.
May 17, 2024

SOU scheduled to return to Columbus, Georgia for their next games

By SOU Sports Information

INDIANAPOLIS – The journey to get there looked a little different this spring, but the destination is the same: Southern Oregon, for the sixth time in seven years, is headed back to the NAIA Softball World Series.

The Raiders got there as a No. 2 seed in the Opening Round for the first time since their initial run in 2017, cutting down top-seeded Marian (Ind.) for the second day in a row Thursday by a score of 9-2 at Marian Softball Diamond.

They rode senior ace Katie Machado’s arm for the duration of their unbeaten march through the Indianapolis Bracket and rewarded her by building a 5-0 lead through the first two innings of the championship finale. She did the rest in her third consecutive complete game, limiting the No. 8-ranked Knights to one earned run, just as in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory.

The No. 17-ranked Raiders (40-17) hit the 40-win mark for the seventh consecutive full season; they enjoyed one such campaign over the team’s preceding 23 years of existence. Until three weeks ago, they’d dropped nine of their 10 games against nationally-ranked opponents. Since then, they’ve notched six wins against top-10 squads.

Highlights: Southern Oregon 9, Marian 2 (2024 NAIA Opening Round championship). SOU Athletics video

“You can just see the growing belief that everybody has in themselves and each other,” three-time NAIA Coach of the Year Jessica Pistole said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of heart, and this team is embracing doing the little things but having a ton of fun doing it.”

SOU will return to Columbus, Georgia, to defend its title from May 23-29. The 10-team, double-elimination bracket is expected to be released late Thursday.

The Knights — who advanced to the final by walking off with a 1-0, nine-inning defeat of Aquinas (Mich.) in a morning elimination contest — finished up at 46-12. They gave the ball to their No. 2 starter, freshman Macy Coan, and the Raiders jumped her immediately.

The first of Kailer Fulton’s three hits set up Jordan Henderson’s two-out RBI double off the wall in the first inning. The next batter, Sammie Pemberton, made it 2-0 by lining a single to right field. The Raiders only got one ball out of the infield in the second inning but added three more – scoring on a first-and-third steal play, a bases-loaded walk and an RBI groundout.

Machado made the lead stand. The only real trouble she faced was in the fifth, where the Knights scored an unearned run to cut their deficit to 5-2. They had the bases loaded with two outs for Abbey Hofmann, but Machado struck her out on three pitches and caught her watching the last one paint the inside corner.

Machado, who improved to 25-5, totaled five strikeouts and allowed seven hits. She handled all 21 innings at the tournament and surrendered two earned runs total, baffling a Knights lineup that had produced the third-most runs in the country this season. She has now allowed two or fewer earned runs in 20 of her 26 complete games.

Katie Machado, oh my gosh,” Pistole said. “She was just all guts and heart.”

Pemberton and Henderson had two hits and two RBIs apiece. Pemberton, a junior shortstop, finished the tournament 5-for-11 with three runs and three RBIs. Faith Moultrie, who along with Fulton scored twice against the Knights, finished the week with four hits.

The Raiders had gone unbeaten through the Opening Round only twice previously: in 2019 and ’21, years that both ended with national championships.

For more on Southern Oregon University Raider athletics, go to souraiders.com.

Thursday, May 161234567RHE
Marian (IN)0010100272
Southern Oregon230022X9121

W: Machado, Katie (25-5) L: M. Coan (11-5)

NAIA OPENING ROUND | INDIANAPOLIS BRACKET
Monday’s Games
Game 1 | (5) Rio Grande (Ohio) 5, (4) Aquinas (Mich.) 2
Game 2 | (2) Southern Oregon 1, (3) Middle Georgia State 0
Tuesday’s Game
Game 3 | (1) Marian (Ind.) 6, Rio Grande 5
Wednesday’s Games
Game 4 |  Aquinas 4, Middle Georgia State 1 (MGSU eliminated)
Game 5 | Southern Oregon 6, Marian 1
Thursday’s Games
Game 6 | Aquinas 8, Rio Grande 0 (5 inn.) (URG eliminated)
Game 7 | Marian 1, Aquinas 0 (9 inn.) (Aquinas eliminated)
Game 8 | Southern Oregon 9, Marian 2 (championship)

Picture of Cameron Aalto

Cameron Aalto

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