KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The stakes are always a little bit higher when your rival comes to town. When that rivalry match-up becomes a top-5 showdown... well let's just say it makes it a bit more interesting.
That's exactly what we'll get on Friday and Saturday at John & Lois Stilwell Stadium when top-ranked Southern Oregon softball travels over the Cascade Mountains for a meeting with fifth-ranked Oregon Tech. Bitter rivals are also some of the best softball teams in the NAIA.
"Anybody can beat anybody on any given day and it's always fun matching up against OIT," SOU head coach Jessica Pistole said on Tuesday at Raiders practice.
Oregon Tech leads the all-time series record, 60-57, as the two teams will surpass 120 games played against one another this weekend. Southern Oregon has closed that gap of late, winning 18 of the last 24 games. More impressively between the two teams, two-thirds of those meetings were decided by 2 runs or fewer, a few going as many as nine innings to decide a winner.
This weekend will be a little extra special for OIT pitcher Sarah Abramson, now in her fourth year with the Owls squad. Due to a multitude of scenarios, she's never played host to the rival Raiders.
"I have never played. SOU at home until this weekend in my four years here," Abramson told NewsWatch 12 Sports. "So I'm definitely excited to play in our element."
Abramson will likely go toe-to-toe with SOU ace Gabby Sandoval, 2019's NAIA Player of the Year, and recently became the ninth pitcher in NAIA history to reach 100 career wins. Either way, the Owls are looking forward to seeing where they stack up against the consensus top team in the country.
"They're the measuring stick in the nation right now. I mean, they're the team to beat," Oregon Tech head coach Greg Stewart said. "[Playing SOU] just gives you that feeling like you're playing a playoff game."
The four-game series beings Friday in Klamath Falls with a doubleheader at 2 pm. Saturday features another doubleheader, scheduled to start at 11 am at John & Lois Stilwell Stadium. Limited bleacher seating is restricted to guests of Oregon Tech players and coaches.