ASHLAND—After a thrilling 3-2 win over Northwestern (IA) on Tuesday, No. 8 Southern Oregon is a win away from reaching the NAIA World Series for the second year in a row.
A day removed from a decisive 9-1 win over Simpson, the Raiders found pulling away from Northwestern more difficult in the team’s first ever meeting.
No SOU batter recorded more than one hit, but the team proved it could win a different style of game. Relying on timely defensive plays and gut-check pitching performances from Allie Hancock and Morgan Jones, the Raiders were able to fend off Northwestern and reach Wednesday’s title game unscathed in the Southern Oregon region.
SOU struck first on Rebecca Velasquez’s single that drove home Kelsey Randall in the first inning, and then tacked on two more in the fifth on a single from Hannah Shimek and a sacrifice bunt from Tayler Walker.
Northwestern strung together its most serious threat in the sixth inning when it loaded the bases on SOU starter Gabby Sandoval with one out. Sandoval hit a batter to make it 3-1, was lifted for Hancock who struck out a batter but then walked in another run to trim the lead to one.
Jones relieved Hancock and induced a weak ground ball to get out of the threat.
"I really like pressure situations,” Jones said. “I've always stood out in those but my defense behind me was the main reason we got out of that inning.”
Jones worked a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh to record her third save of the season.
SOU now turns its attention to two-seed St. Francis in tomorrow’s regional title game at 11 a.m. The No. 15 Fighting Saints beat Northwestern 5-2 in 11 innings Tuesday afternoon and will need to beat the Raiders twice to advance to the NAIA World Series.