COLUMBUS, Georgia--- The next time the "Clash in the Cascades" softball matchup happens between Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech, it will not be in the Cascade Mountains but the stakes will be much higher. With wins over Bethany and the College of Idaho on Tuesday, SOU punched its ticket to the NAIA World Series championship game. It means Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech will play each other and the winner will be crowned the 2021 national champion.
After already beating Bethany, 9-0 (6 innings), the top-ranked Raiders (53-6) ran into a very familiar opponent. The only thing standing between Southern Oregon and a second consecutive trip to the championship game was the College of Idaho (44-19).
The Raiders scored their first four runs off errors by the COI defense. The first was a throwing error at 1st that put SOU's Lauren Quirke on base and brought Allie Stines in for a score during the top of the 3rd. After that, Riley Donovan was intentionally walked. Tayler Walker followed with a single to center and Quirke scored an unearned run.
Still in the top of the 3rd, another COI blunder gave SOU and even greater advantage. Stines had reached on an error that brought Morehead-Hutsell in. On the same play, another throwing error brought Mackey in and put SOU up, 4-0.
While all of this was happening, SOU's Gabby Sandoval was allowing nothing from the COI offense. Sandoval went all six innings with three strikeouts and no runs allowed. In the game, she earned her 31st win of the season.
In the top of the 5th, Riley Donovan stepped back to the plate having already been intentionally walked in the game. This time, she proved why she had been intentionally walked before. Donovan powered a ball to left and sent it over the wall for a solo-shot homerun. SOU had a 5-0 lead.
Southern Oregon continued to pour it on in the top of the 6th, which would prove to be the final inning. Avery Morehead-Hutsell drove an RBI single to right and helped Mackey advance to 3rd. Stines stepped up and doubled to bring in Morehead-Hutsell and Mackey. Then, Shimek got herself in a rundown to bring Stines in for another score. Suddenly, the top-ranked team in the nation had a 9-0 lead with the mercy rule in effect.
With a College of Idaho ground out, strikeout, and fly out the Raiders were officially bound for the national championship.
Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech will play on Wednesday at 2:00 PT. If Oregon Tech wins, it will be the national champion. If Southern Oregn wins that game, there will be a second game at around 5:00 PT.
NewsWatch 12 Sports is working with the two schools to get interviews with each team. This article will be updated as more becomes available.