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The Champion Raiders have landed

2021 National Champion Southern Oregon Softball team arrived home on Thursday at about 9:45 p.m. to the sound of applause from fans gathered inside the airport terminal.

Posted: Jun 4, 2021 12:42 AM

MEDFORD, Ore--- 2021 National Champion Southern Oregon Softball team arrived home on Thursday at about 9:45 p.m. to the sound of applause from fans gathered inside the airport terminal. 

If you were at the airport and had no knowledge of softball on Thursday, it would not have taken long to figure out the national champions were about to land. 

There were children with signs. There were grandparents with flowers. There fans with T-shirts from the 2019 national championship that Southern Oregon also won. However, those shirts are now outdated. So, some fans made sure to attach a sticky note with the number "21" written on it over the number "20" that was printed on the shirt. 

"We have not got the 2021 T-shirt yet. So, we decided to just put a tag over there so that it shows that we are the world champions in 19 and 21," said SOU super-fan Bill Seymore. 

The fans discussed the crazy games that were the final two games of the 2021 NAIA Softball World Series. Games that Southern Oregon beat Oregon Tech in the most frantic fashion possible. 

Like many of us in the Rogue Valley, these fans had their eyes glued to a live stream as the second game unfolded. 

Southern Oregon started with a 2-1 lead over Oregon Tech in a "winner-take-all." Momentum started to carry the Raiders to victory in the final two innings after timely hits and a rare inside the park homerun from Olivia Mackey. 

However, the Owls were not ready to fall down. Oregon Tech worked its way back in the bottom of the 7th. Eventually, the Raiders found themselves only leading 5-4 with the bases loaded. 

That is when head coach Jessica Pistole made the decision that no one can imagine making. Pistole pulled ace Gabby Sandoval who was on the brink of finishing her second complete game of the day. Pistole brought out Lauren Quirke. 

Quirke would walk the tying run across home plate. Then, the Raiders found their way out of the inning. 

In the top of the 9th, World Series MVP Riley Donovan had seen enough. She launched a pitch all the way to dead center and it went over the wall. It would prove to be the winning run. 

Throughout the World Series, Donovan was 11-17 at the plate with two home runs. She finished with an OBA (on base average) of .780 and she hit the title clinching homer. 

Southern Oregon won the 2021 National Championship, 7-5. 

The topic of conversation while fans waited for their Raiders to arrive was "What did we just watch?"

As the first group of Raiders emerged from the doors, the thoughtfulness of those fans was evident on the faces of the players. 

"Best fans. Best support. Hands down the best time of my life," said catcher Allie Stines. 

The national title trophy was obviously counted as carry on since it came out with the players. The champions even wrapped Pistole in the national title banner as she interviewed with NewsWatch 12 Sports. 

"I said I was going to use this if it was cold on the plane but it was not cold," said Pistole.

Before that though, Pistole was reflecting just as the fans were. 

"Feels so good. And what a great welcoming reception? So much fun, all the people here. I still think back on those two games and I think "I don't know what just happened." Like, I have no doubt that we could do it but the way those two games went was an all out dog fight. It was so much fun."

Even with how tired they were after a long flight from Georgia, the Raiders still boasted their new hardware and hugged their families.

The party is certainly not over. Southern Oregon already has a victory parade planned for Wednesday, June 9. The parade will start at 3:30 p.m. at the Ashland Safeway and make its way to the bandshell at Lithia Park.  

For the players, it is the pinacle of succes after the most uncertain years of their lives. For the fans, its joy in the success of those the young ones they love. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Morrow197825
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Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
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Wheeler1141
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