SOU 3-for-3 on first day of tourney

LA MIRADA, Calif. — The Southern Oregon University softball team tacked on three wins to its hot start Wednesday on first day of the NAIA So. Cal Classic, 10-4 over Embry-Riddle (Ariz.), 8-7 over Hope International (Calif.) and 7-1 over Vanguard (Calif.).

At 8-1 overall, the Raiders have matched the best start through nine games in team history. Their lineup churned out 31 hits on the day, six of which went for extra bases, and their pitching staff combined to allow just four earned runs in 21 innings of work.

Kelsey Randall had four hits, drew three walks, scored seven runs and drove in two more, while Taylor Martinez went 6-for-12 with a pair of doubles. Kayleen Smith (5-for-10) and Rebecca Velasquez (4-for-8) totaled five RBI apiece, and Velasquez's two-run single in the bottom of the sixth against HIU got the Raiders out of a 7-6 hole. Randall and Smith have reached base safely in every game, and Karlee Coughlin extended her hit streak to eight games.

SOU's pitchers, meanwhile, lowered the team earned-run average to 1.95. Coughlin (2-0) picked up the first win in a complete-game effort, working around three Raider errors with eight strikeouts to allow one earned run. Gabby Sandoval (6-0) earned the next two decisions, conceding six hits and one earned run in 10 total innings, though her streak of consecutive innings without an earned run allowed ended at 27 1/3.

The Raiders play three more today at the Classic in West Covina: 2 p.m. against host Biola (Calif.), 4 p.m. against 25th-ranked San Diego Christian (Calif.) and 8 p.m. against Arizona Christian.

Game 1: SOU 10, Embry-Riddle 4

Tied 1-1, the Raiders went up for good with a three-run third inning against the Eagles. Randall, who scored the game's first run in the first inning, started the third with a triple and Smith drove her in with a single. Smith, who also stole three bases, scored on a wild pitch, and Martinez later doubled in Harlee Donovan.

SOU was gifted six unearned runs on five Eagles errors and tacked on six in the final three innings, scoring for the last time on Smith's two-run single. Martinez went 3-for-4 in the game, and Tyler Burke went 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of runs.

Coughlin worked in and out of trouble in her third career start, scattering seven hits and three free passes. She went the last five innings without allowing an earned run.

Game 2: SOU 8, Hope International 7

SOU made another sloppy defense pay in Game 2, taking advantage of four Royals errors as only four of the eight runs on pitcher Tori Franks' line were of the earned variety.

Randall and Aaliyah Oliver scored three runs each, and Velasquez's big game started in the first when she lined a single to left that brought home Randall to force an early tie. Oliver put the Raiders ahead in the second with a double, and she scored to make it 3-1 on the following at-bat as Randall's grounder was thrown away. The Raiders made it 6-2 in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles from Randall and Smith.

The Royals went ahead, though, with a five-run fifth that knocked out starter Lexie Raasch, though none of the runs were earned. With two outs and the bases loaded, Samantha Molina drew a walk. The next batter, Cynthia Martinez, teed off on Sandoval for a grand slam.

Velasquez's game-winning hit up the middle in the sixth was delivered with two outs after Oliver singled and Randall and Harlee Donovan walked to load the bases. Sandoval shut the door, setting the Royals down in order in the seventh to leave Martinez in the on-deck circle.

Game 3: SOU 7, Vanguard 1

As Sandoval breezed through a five-hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk, the Raiders took the drama out of the finale early by taking a 4-0 lead through two innings. In the first, Randall led off with a single and scored on Donovan's sacrifice fly. In the second, Smith lined an RBI single to center and Velasquez followed with a two-run to the gap in left, scoring Smith and Donovan.

Martinez went 3-for-4 again, and her double in the fifth scored Donovan for the first part of a three-run frame. Coughlin and Burke provided additional insurance with RBI singles.

Eight different players came through with hits for the Raiders, who also made it through an errorless game in the field.

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