KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Once again, the Top 5 showdown between No. 1 Southern Oregon and No. 5 Oregon Tech delivered on the promise of intense drama on the softball diamond. In both games, the top-ranked Raiders jumped out to early leads, but in game one, the Owls scored a combined 13 runs in the fifth and sixth innings to capture their first win against SOU since 2018.
Game One - Oregon Tech 14, Southern Oregon 5 (6 innings):
The Raiders struck first in game one, scoring two runs in the top of the second. One run came on a wild pitch, allowing Rylan Austin to score from third. The other, a Hannah Shimek single that allowed Katrina Winterburn to jog home.
In the bottom half of the same frame, Aubrey Businger uncorked a homer to left field to cut the Raiders lead in half, but that was the only run Gabby Sandoval would give up until the fifth inning.
The Raiders tacked on three runs in the top of the fourth on a Winterburn home run and Riley Donovan's two-RBI single with the bases loaded.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Oregon Tech offensive floodgates began to open. Kennedy Jantzi hit a three-run homer to bring the Owls within one run. It was her 12th home run of the season, putting her tied for first in the NAIA. Moments later, Businger hit her second dinger of the day to tie it.
Mckenzie Staub pitched a scoreless two and two-thirds to close out the game and set up the Oregon Tech offense to explode in the bottom of the sixth.
Nine runs on six hits capped off by Jensen Becker's walk-off, three-run home run to activate the mercy rule, as the Owls end the Raiders win streak at 19 games.
"When I hit that ball I was like, 'Oh, I hit it pretty solid,'" Becker said about her sixth-inning homer. "I was just thankful that I got on top of that ball and hit that out for us. I would like to thank all of my teammates for getting me to that point because without them that wasn't possible."
The 14-5 victory was certainly a signature win for OIT and one of the very best head coach Greg Stewart has seen in his 17 years of coaching the Owls.
"Our kids didn't lay down," Stewart said about his team's comeback after being down 5-1 in the fifth inning. "I haven't seen a great of a comeback as that in my career as I did today as far as games that I've coached."
Game Two - Southern Oregon 6, Oregon Tech 2:
The Raiders, though, showed why they're number one in the country. A veteran-heavy team flushed the disappointing loss and focused on getting the next one. SOU scored six runs across the first four frames, tallying at least one run in each.
"Just shaking it off," Hannah Shimek, Southern Oregon's starting second baseman said about how the Raiders responded in game two on Saturday. "We have 5 seconds and then we're back in and we forget about that game. It's how you react and that's why we're national champions is because we react the way we do. We came back out on fire again."
Shimek hit the second home run of her college career in the second inning to straightaway center field to boost the Raiders lead to 4-0. Austin and Lauren Quirke would add to that total in the third and fourth innings with an RBI each.
Oregon Tech was able to get two runs off a throwing error but the Owls were shut down for the majority of game two by Quirke.
Southern Oregon will host the University of Providence next weekend while Oregon Tech hits the road for the first time in three weeks to take on Northwest University.