After going 1-5 in their opening weekend, the Oklahoma Christian University softball team “changed their focus” to go 4-0 at home in the Edmond Regional Festival Feb. 8-9.
“Our performance as a team was not what we expected at all to happen in Durant,” senior Kayla Eichler said. “Going 4-0 this past weekend was a great confidence booster for us as a team.”
The Lady Eagles opened the festival against Southern Nazarene University Feb. 8.
Down by two after three innings of play, Eichler started the scoring for Oklahoma Christian with a double to left center, which scored seniors Bridget White and Madison Nordyke.
Then, the Lady Eagles took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning after sophomore Bailey Strecker drew a walk when the Lady Eagles had the bases loaded to score senior Sheridan Fuller.
Despite Southern Nazarene tying the game 3-3 in the top of the sixth, Fuller scored again for Oklahoma Christian to give the Lady Eagles their first of the weekend.
Senior Madison Hagood started on the mound, but senior Kaylie Upton (2-1) recorded the win for Oklahoma Christian, throwing two strike-outs.
“In Durant, there were a lot of nerves,” Eichler said. “We have a lot of talent on this team, which is great, but because of that, everyone was so focused on the fact that they had to get a hit or had to play good in order to earn a spot really got to a lot of us on the field. We needed to slow the game down and just play the game that we have been playing our whole lives. Playing more as team this weekend really showed. Nobody was playing scared. We were confident at the plate, on the field and had each other’s backs. We stood behind one another like a team should and I think that really showed.”
In their second game of the festival, Oklahoma Christian defeated Northeastern State University 3-1.
The Lady Eagles jumped on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first inning from a double to right center from White to score Nordyke.
Northeastern State only scored once during the game in the top of the third inning.
Oklahoma Christian recorded two more runs in the fifth and sixth innings from sophomore Daelyn Denny and Strecker.
Upton (3-2) started pitching for the Lady Eagles and threw one strikeout. Hagood came in and pitched two scoreless innings, recording her 10th save of the season to tie the school record.
“Our pitchers always work hard every day of every week to be able to perform at their best,” Eichler said. “I think that it helped them when they were able to go out there and pitch with a lead. The pitchers knew that their team not only had their backs on the defensive side, but also on the offensive side as well.”
The Lady Eagles opened the second day of competition with a victory over Southeastern Oklahoma State University 3-1.
Nordyke scored first for Oklahoma Christian off of a single from Upton.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Eichler hit a double to center field and scored Upton. Again, in the bottom of the sixth, Eichler doubled to right center to score senior Jessica Killer.
Nordyke (1-3) was the starting pitcher for Oklahoma Christian, only allowing one run from Southeastern Oklahoma State. Hagood entered the game in the sixth inning to close the game and record her 11th save of the season, setting an Oklahoma Christian record.
Eichler said her success at the plate came from changing her focus while in the hitter’s box and having fun.
“This weekend, I changed my focus from what it was in Durant, and I think that was a big factor in my success at the plate,” Eichler said. “My focus was ‘see ball, hit ball,’ and that’s exactly what I did. I was confident in the box and not pressing for a hit. I had a quiet mind and just had fun this past weekend.”
In their final game of their home opening stand, the Lady Eagles run-ruled Washburn University, winning 8-0 in just five innings of play.
Oklahoma Christian scored all eight of their runs in two innings, four in the bottom of the third and four in the bottom of the fifth.
The Lady Eagles hit the ball six times in 20 at-bats to win the game.
Hagood (1-1) recorded the win from the mound for Oklahoma Christian, throwing four strikeouts.
After the weekend, Eichler was named Eagle of the Week for her strong hitting performance. She hit .417 with four doubles and batted five runners in.
“With a four-game win streak under our belts, I believe we will go into our games this weekend with a little bit of swagger and confidence, which is exactly what we need when we face these two tough teams this week,” Eichler said. “We will continue to play for each other and with each other, and that’ll hopefully show again this week against Southwestern Oklahoma State University and University of Central Oklahoma.”
The Lady Eagles will remain at home for the next game as they play a double-header against Southwestern Oklahoma State University tomorrow at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Feb. 17, they will travel to the University of Central Oklahoma to battle the Lady Bronchos in a double-header at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.