Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
Scoring a total of 32 runs and allowing only two in their season opener, the Lady Eagles trampled Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, Okla.
This matchup marked the beginning of a new season for the Lady Eagles. Their morale, according to junior Krista Martony, reached new heights after the doubleheader.
“Our hitting seems to be even better than last year, and we can always count on someone to pull through with a clutch hit,” Martony said. “Obviously our confidence is higher than ever after run-ruling a team twice.”
Oklahoma Christian joined the Heartland Conference this year, but will not play a conference rival until the end of the month.
Assistant softball coach Jessica Ruckman offered insight into the scheduling thoughts of the coaching staff this season.
“Every year we try to schedule non-conference games at the beginning of the season to help prepare us for our conference schedule,” Ruckman said. “The past few years, our non-conference games have been cancelled due to weather. I’m excited that we are actually able to get in a few games before we start our Heartland schedule.”
In Saturday’s games against Southwestern Christian, the Lady Eagles got off to a slow start. The coaching staff switched the lineup to something a little different than they had tried before, and although it took a few innings to warm up, the Lady Eagles were unstoppable once they started going.
Low temperatures and bitter wind characterized the weather on Saturday, as is common at the beginning of the season, but the Lady Eagles fought through and swept the first game 12-0.
Senior Lindsy Moore started on the mound for Oklahoma Christian, and sophomore Courtney Starr was first behind the plate. Moore threw four innings and struck out four batters.
Sophomore Krystal Rodriguez came in after Moore and threw two hitless innings, and freshman Danielle Collins ended the game with a perfect seventh inning.
Martony noted the overall success of the pitching staff, as well as a personal success for Collins.
“I was very proud of our pitchers because not only did they have to play in the freezing cold, they really pulled through for us,” Martony said. “I was very proud of Danielle for having a perfect inning in her first collegiate game — that’s big.”
The Lady Eagles had 13 hits in the first game, and scored 12 runs. Starr led the Lady Eagles with three hits and two RBIs, and sophomore Kendra Pierce shined with two hits and four RBIs. Sophomore Monique Elliot and junior Lauren Chatigny, both lefties, added five hits combined.
Ruckman spoke of the focus for the Lady Eagles coming into a young season.
“One of the main things we wanted to emphasize to our players was to score early in the game and not sit on a lead,” Ruckman said. “We started off slow and didn’t score the first inning, but I’m proud of the way the girls adjusted and started scoring.”
The Lady Eagles continued to dominate the field in the second game, winning with a final score of 20-2.
In this matchup the Lady Eagles had a total of 19 hits in the second game, half of those coming in the first inning. Oklahoma Christian jumped on Southwestern Christian’s Bailey Jones and scored 12 runs in the first inning alone.
Junior Kala Ratliff gave a reason for the massive success of the Lady Eagles in this first matchup.
“They challenged us to wait on the ball, and once we learned how to, we scored 32 runs in two games,” Ratliff said.
The Lady Eagles would continue to score throughout the remaining innings, until a mercy rule was called after the 5th.
Pierce stood out again at the plate and went 5-for-5 in the second game driving in six RBIs.
“Kendra played excellent; she didn’t make an error in the field, and she drove the ball every time she was up,” Ratliff said. “She’s always been a great hitter, and she did exactly what we expected she would.”
Ratliff and Starr also contributed, each adding three hits and three RBIs.
The Lady Eagles faced Southwestern Oklahoma State University on Monday, Feb. 11, and the doubleheader resulted in another sweep for the Lady Eagles.
Moore started out the first game against the Bulldogs and allowed only two hits, three walks, and recorded one strikeout. Rodriguez came in to finish the game and allowed only two hits in three innings.
Pierce, Starr, and junior Lauren Pittman each recorded one hit for the first game. The Lady Eagles won the first game 3-1.
Sophomore Taylor Mosher started out on the mound for the second game and pitched for five innings; she allowed only one hit, and struck seven out.
Moore came in again to close out the game, and finished with two scoreless innings.
In the second game, Chatigny, Pierce and Thomas contributed two hits each. Ratliff, Collins, junior Sarah Peoples and sophomore Monique Elliot added one apiece. Pierce also had three RBIs while Peoples recorded two.
With a team record of 4-0, the Lady Eagles have scored a total of 41 runs in four games and have limited their opponents to three.
This past weekend, Pierce, an Oklahoma City native from Westmoore High School, was named Heartland Conference Hitter of the Week.
Mosher, who calls Flower Mound, Texas home, completed the sweep of Heartland Conference awards by being named Pitcher of the Week.
The Lady Eagles are set to travel to Monticello, Ark. this weekend for a marathon tournament where they will play six schools over three days.