MEDFORD—It’s a new season but it’s the same Southern Oregon softball team.
With a methodical approach on offense and a lights out performance in the circle, the Raiders picked up where they left off in the regular season and opened the NAIA Tournament with a 5-0 win over Marymount (CA).
“This team gets up for postseason,” head coach Jessica Pistole said. “I think it's one of those things where it's what you play for."
"We're here for a reason and we're here to make it to nationals," junior pitcher Gabby Sandoval said.
The top-seeded Raiders’ quest for a third straight trip to the NAIA World Series started on a strong note Monday, as they used a two-run triple from Lauren Quirke and a bases loaded walk from Olivia Mackey to jump out to a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
Ace Gabby Sandoval took it from there. She had everything working and only allowed six baserunners.
"I think she just did a really good job staying composed and throwing her game, mixing things up and then working ahead and really trying to get them to fish," Pistole said.
Sandoval’s now been in the circle for her team’s past 28 innings.
"It's more in my legs and just getting treatment and working through it really,” she said. “Trusting that I've prepared for this moment and prepared to throw this many innings. Really, I'm feeling great."
Mackey then broke things open with a two-run single in the fifth inning.
"I think I was just looking for my pitch and if she threw me on the plate, I knew I was going to try and hit it and do whatever I could to get the runners in or even just move them," she said.
Day two of the Opening Round comes on Tuesday, as SOU will play a winner’s bracket game at 11 a.m. against two-seed Hope International—a team it’s already beaten twice this season.