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SOU's Jessica Pistole, NAIA Softball Coach of the Year

Pistole honored as NAIA Coach of the Year

Southern Oregon University softball coach Jessica Pistole, who guided her team last month to SOU’s first-ever national championship in a women’s sport, was the NAIA Softball Coach of the Year on Wednesday.

The fifth-year head coach has led the Raiders to three consecutive NAIA World Series appearances. This year’s team made it through the winners bracket of the double-elimination tournament unbeaten, then had two chances to beat longtime powerhouse Oklahoma City, which came out of the loser’s bracket needing a two-game sweep.

Oklahoma City won the first game before the Raiders won the World Series with an 8-3 win in an elimination game for both teams.

SOU went 15-23 the season before Pistole became head coach and has gone 219-82 in the five seasons since, including a 149-38 mark over the last three years.

Pistole and her assistant coaches – Duane PardueCheyenne Bricker, Mike Mayben and Harlee Donovan – last week were named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s NAIA National Coaching Staff of the Year.

The program has also won three consecutive Cascade Conference regular-season titles and three consecutive conference tournament titles, and has set program records for wins in each of the last three seasons.

The Raiders have earned NAIA Scholar Team honors each season under Pistole.

The coach, originally from Loomis, California, was named the CCC Coach of the Year for the third time this season.

Her team finished this season with a 52-8 record and its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the final NAIA Top 25 poll.

The Raiders ranked sixth nationally in hits per game (10.3), seventh in team batting average (.360) and runs (7.0), and 16th in earned-run average (2.08).They also committed fewer than half as many fielding errors (58) as their opponents (118).

This story is based on an earlier version at souraiders.com

SOU celebrates World Series championship

Raiders softball team returns to SOU as World Series champs

The SOU Raiders softball team, united all year in its focus on a national title, was returning to Ashland today in four separate groups after winning the university’s first championship Wednesday night in the NAIA World Series.

SOU President Linda Schott, who was traveling in Mexico as part of the Ashland-Guanajuato Sister City delegation, said she followed the championship series closely and is thrilled with the result.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team and our university,” the president said. “These young women are textbook examples of student-athletes. They demonstrated their talent, toughness and determination on a national stage – and the team has a combined grade point average of 3.5. They are ideal representatives of SOU and the state of Oregon. I look forward to congratulating them when we’re all back on campus.”

Plans are in the works for a parade next week to celebrate the team’s championship. Details will be posted on SOU News when the date, time and route are finalized.

The SOU team was led on Wednesday by a complete-game effort from pitcher Gabby Sandoval and a first-inning grand slam by shortstop Paige Leeper as they defeated NAIA powerhouse Oklahoma City, 8-3, in an elimination game for both teams.

The Raiders made it through the World Series winner’s bracket unbeaten, then had two opportunities to defeat Oklahoma City – which emerged from the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament. Oklahoma City won the first game of the two-game set with SOU on Wednesday morning.

SOU is just the second Cascade Conference member to win the NAIA World Series since it began in 1981, and the team set a school record for wins for the third consecutive season under fifth-year head coach Jessica Pistole.

Wednesday night’s game was Sandoval’s 33rd complete game of the season, giving her a 36-4 record – the 10th-most single-season wins in NAIA history and the most for any pitcher since 2013.