CCC Softball

Tournament Schedule

Friday, May 4

Game 1: No. 4 Eastern Oregon vs. No. 5 British Columbia, 9 a.m.

Game 2: No. 3 Oregon Tech vs. No. 6 Carroll College, 11:30 a.m.

Game 3: No. 1 Southern Oregon vs. Game 1 winner, 2 p.m.

Game 4: No. 2 Corban vs. Game 2 winner,
4:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 5

Game 5: Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 9 a.m. (loser eliminated)

Game 6: Game 1 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 11:30 a.m. (loser eliminated)

Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner,
2 p.m.

Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:30 p.m. (loser eliminated)

Sunday, May 6

Game 9: Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 winner, 11 a.m. (loser eliminated)

Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 1:30 p.m. (championship)

Game 11: Game 10 winner vs. Game 10 loser, 30 minutes after Game 10 (if necessary; Game 9 winner would have to win Game 10 to force Game 11)

Source: cascadeconference.org

The Eastern Oregon softball team is still on a high from its dramatic walk-off victory over Southern Oregon in Saturday’s regular season finale.

And the Mountaineers are hoping to ride the momentum and belief from that win to a Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament title and a second national tournament berth in three years.

“We’ve talked about it all year. We have the capability to beat anybody we step on the field with,” head coach Erin Dickhausen said. “It’s just the confidence and having the belief that we can. I think the fact that we beat Southern (means) instead of us coaches talking about it, now at least all the players have that confidence and have that knowledge that we are able to (win).”

Chelsea Spanier, one of four seniors who is hoping to extend their career past this weekend, said there was a different vibe for the team in the game it won over SOU, one that the Mountaineers need to find again in the tournament.

“Looking at those four games, I could definitely tell the fourth game, the one that we won, we were relaxed and comfortable,” Spanier said. “We talk about this all year — we play our best when we’re having a good time and dancing in the dugout. That's just how we are as a team. I think we’ll try to carry that over, and realizing were down to the end, we have to enjoy it.”

Hailey Kline, EOU’s senior ace, added that the seniors “are definitely playing with all of our heart out there and playing for each other. I'm definitely hoping that it’s not our last time on a softball field.”

EOU begins action Friday morning at the CCC tournament in Ashland as the No. 4 seed, and will open against a team they struggled with earlier this season in fifth-seed British Columbia.

Eastern (23-20 overall, 15-12 CCC) dropped two of three contests against the Thunderbirds (17-21, 14-13) in a home series April 13-14.

But it was a weekend that the Mountaineers’ usually strong defense struggled. EOU committed 11 errors during the three contests, including 10 in the two losses and seven in one game. By comparison, the team averaged just one error per game in its other 40.

“Our defense has been solid all year. You take that weekend away (and) we’re looking pretty good defensively,” Dickhausen said.

Instead, the Mountaineers’ primary focus in practice this week has been on offense. The Mountaineers averaged nearly 4.8 runs per game heading into last weekend’s series against SOU, but scored just five times in four games against the Raiders. Part of that was due to Southern having one of the top pitching staffs in the CCC, but Dickhausen said the team has been trying to clean up some fundamentals.

“We’ve been popping a lot of balls up, so we evaluated a little bit seeing what we were doing,” Dickhausen said. “We've dropped a little bit on the back side, (and) we’re kind of weak with our top hand. Those were a couple of things we really focused on in practice (Monday).”

The other big question that remains unanswered for EOU is how it’ll arrange its pitching staff.

“We’re still talking about our options and figuring out do we want to use Kline Game 1 and have her be tired for Game 2 against Southern (if EOU beats UBC), or do we want to pitch one of our others,” Dickhausen said. “And anyone is capable of winning those games.”

Kline enters the tournament with a 13-7 record and a 1.99 ERA. But the Mountaineers’ other two primary pitchers, Ashton Kazmierski (4-6, 3.74) and Lauren Spencer (6-5, 5.29) have improved as the season progressed. In CCC play, Kazmierski is 2-2 with a 2.62 ERA, while Spencer is 2-2 with a 5.39 ERA.

Shevan DeFreitas (.325 average, eight home runs, 33 RBIs), Spanier (.320, three, 29), Maryssa Santi (.298, four, 17) and Rayne Spencer (.293, six, 31) have been the leaders offensively. And while having the entire offense click would be ideal for EOU, Dickhausen said Spanier could be the key.

“For the most part Span is pretty consistent, but when she is getting on base multiple times a game, or if she’s just finding a way to produce, and that could just be moving a runner (or) a sac fly, those are some of the bigger opportunities for us in a game,” Dickhausen said. “She plays a big role in this team. When she gets rolling, it’s good.”

If the Mountaineers can get past UBC, it would set them up in a Friday afternoon rematch against the Raiders, who clinched the CCC regular season title and one of the two first-round byes in the tournament.

A loss to UBC, or a loss to the Raiders, would put Eastern in a loser-out game Saturday morning, and mean the Mountaineers would have to win out to claim the CCC title.

Eastern will, however, clinch a national bid if it reaches the championship game and SOU happens to be the opponent.

Kline said for EOU to make a title run, everything — pitching, fielding and hitting — needs to be dialed in.

But the team also needs belief, which it should have plenty of after beating SOU.

“I think this is a week we need to build (confidence) and believe in ourselves,” Kline said.

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