ASHLAND & KLAMATH FALLS, Ore--- After the sudden halt of local sports nearly one year ago, Southern Oregon University and Oregon Tech sports are returning to competition.
The Rogue Valley and Klamath Basin will see seven competitions involving five teams for SOU and OIT on Friday.
NewsWatch 12 Sports would like to remind those wanting to view the games that spectators are not allowed at CCC events this season. You can catch live stream coverage of the games at the Oregon Tech Athletics website and the Southern Oregon Athletics website. Of course, coverage of all of the games will be on NewsWatch 12 at 6 and 11.
Below, you can see which games you should be watching out for:
- At Simpson University- 12:00 p.m.
- At Simpson University- 2:00 p.m.
It has been 11 months since the defending national champions played a game. SOU comes in as the near unanimous No. 1 team in the NAIA Top 25 preseason poll.
A lot is the same 11 months later, but one big thing has changed.
What has stayed the same? The Raiders will bring back seven players that earned post-season accolades in 2019. The core of the leadership will come from 2019 NFCA-NAIA Pitcher of the Year Gabby Sandoval, senior Lauren Quirke, and senior Allie Stines.
What changed? Jessica Pistole, the coach that led the Raiders to bringing the 2019 national championship back to Ashland, returns to her role as the head coach after a stint at the University of San Diego. Her replacement in that short time was Mike Mayben. Mayben had a very successful stint at the helm. Mayben started 23-3 before the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the 2020 season. Mayben will still be on staff as an assistant.
- At The College of Idaho- 2:00 p.m.
- At The College of Idaho- 5:00 p.m.
OIT Baseball already got its season opener out of the way. OIT will come off two losses to William Jessup on January 30 and 31. The first game included explosive scoring innings for the Owls. That game also included more explosive scoring innings for the Warriors. The second game ended in a heartbreaking, walk-off double for William Jessup in the bottom of the 10th.
First-year head coach Jacob Garsez tells NewsWatch 12 Sports that he is focused on seeing how his new squad responds to adversity. While acknowledging that his team had only practiced one time on a baseball field before its games vs William Jessup, Garsez believes his team would have won at least one game had it responded to adversity a little better.
- At Simpson University- 6:00 p.m.
After a six-month delay to the start of the season, OIT Volleyball takes the floor vs Simpson University on Friday.
The Owls are a young squad. Only one senior, Ireland Bennet, will play for the Owls this season. However, that one senior has been extremely instrumental in first-year head coach Ken Murczek's transition to his new role. That is according to Murczek himself.
A young core of setters including freshmen Brooke Cassidy and Lindsey Beck will bolster the Owl offense.
The backrow players for OIT all return. Lindsey Sampson, Aurbrey Kievit, and Ally Volk are all expected make impacts for the Owl Defense.
All-in-all, Murczek tells NewsWatch 12 Sports that this team is unlike any he has ever coached. He believes the "buy-in" of the team, through uncertain times, has been incredible. He attributes that to the leadership of Bennet.
OIT Men's Soccer:
- Vs William Jessup- 12:00 p.m.
The OIT soccer programs are the only teams that will make their season debuts at home. The men's team is coming off one of its strongest in program history. However, the Owls still come into the delayed season with a mixed bag of fresh and familiar faces.
"We have some very good returning players and have added 15 new players," said head coach Casey Tate. "We are excited to see where we are at. We need to find ourselves quickly with the short season. It's critical that we are selfless, and that the team first mentality shows. It's a brand-new team with a lot younger players and we need to challenge ourselves and see what we can do."
Goalkeeper Mitchell Jillson will be a key leader among the returners for the Hustlin' Owls. Though, the defense will also be led by four veterans.
"Our back four will be led by veterans Kyle Wright, Brock Rideout, Kyle Sanchez, Roni Rountree along with newcomers Gavin Wilmott, Ryan Pearson, Sebastian Brunk, Ellis Harwood, Brandon Donat and Ian Bermudez expected to make an impact," Tate said.
OIT was picked fifth in the Cascade Collegiate Conference Men's Soccer Coaches' Preseason Poll.
OIT Women's Soccer:
- Vs Simpson University- 2:30 p.m.
The Lady Owls will look to build on what was an incredible 2019 season. In 2019, OIT dominated the Cascade Collegiate Conference and finished with a 10-0-2 conference record. The Owls would continue on to the NAIA Championships first round and finish 13-4-2.
This year, the Lady Owls were picked second in the CCC preseason poll.
The Lady Owls will look to rebound after losing some key pieces. The Owls will attempt to replace 1st Team All-CCC forward Salyna Blue, three-time honorable mention midfielder Hailey Satyna, and 1st Team All-Conference goalkeeper Jenna Stiehr.
Though they are losing pieces, there will also be a core group of returners like 1st team All-CCC senior Amy Morikawa and 2019 Honorable Mention sophomore Kyra Cambra.