Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
Faced with the threat of a possible blizzard, the Oklahoma Christian University softball team improvised with a change of plans last weekend.
“Due to weather, we had to cancel two different tournaments, causing us to lose seven games,” assistant coach Jessica Ruckman said. “Although we don’t like taking the students away from classes for a week at a time, this trip was necessary in order to play games before our conference play starts next weekend.”
The first stop — a scheduled game — would be to Denton, Texas to play Texas Women’s University.
Texas Women’s, ranked 14th in the nation, proved to be tough competition for the Lady Eagles. Oklahoma Christian dropped both games of the doubleheader to the Pioneers.
In the first game, the Lady Eagles had a strong start, leading 7-1 in the top of the fourth inning. However, in the bottom of the fourth, the Pioneers started a huge rally that led to nine runs.
“We were scoring runs and playing solid defense while they weren’t hitting at all, and they made quite a few errors,” junior Lauren Chatigny said. “I think once they started hitting the ball hard and we made a couple errors, we just let that get into our heads.”
Texas Women’s continued to score runs in the remaining innings and won in six innings by mercy rule, 15-7.
In the second match-up of the day, the Pioneers took a steady approach of scoring to eventually end the game in six innings, yet again. The only run for the Lady Eagles came off of a homerun from junior Martha Thomas.
The only other hit for Oklahoma Christian came from Chatigny, giving the Lady Eagles a total of two hits compared to Texas Women’s 12.
The game ended 9-1, a sweep for the Pioneers.
For the next round of games, the Lady Eagles would continue south to Austin, Texas. There, they faced Huston-Tillotson University, a softball program entering just its third season.
In the first game against the Rams, the Lady Eagles got off to a quick start. Chatigny led off for the Lady Eagles and hit a triple to start the game. Oklahoma Christian continued to hit through the lineup, scoring four runs in the first inning.
Huston-Tillotson attempted a comeback in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Lady Eagles sealed the deal in the seventh, winning 8-3.
Sophomore Kendra Pierce led the team with three hits. Sophomore Monique Elliot had two hits and two RBIs, and Chatigny and sophomore Courtney Starr each added two hits, while Thomas had one hit with two RBIs.
Junior Sarah Peoples took advantage of the 300-foot fence and rounded the bases for an in-the-park homerun that would score her and two more in her only hit of the game.
Senior Lindsy Moore pitched the entire game, allowing eight hits and three runs. She also recorded two strikeouts.
The second matchup proved to be a challenge of experience, and the Lady Eagles kept the score to a minimum. The coaching staff decided to play methodically, limiting one base at a time for each hit.
“Early in the game we jumped on a huge lead and decided to take the ‘station-to-station’ approach, which means our girls went from base-to-base every hit instead of taking extra base hits,” Ruckman said. “This required our girls to still play hard, but to earn each hit and run we scored while still being respectful to the other team.”
The Lady Eagles ended the game in five innings, 18-1.
Rounding out their journey, the Lady Eagles made their last stop in Stephenville, Texas. There they played the Tarleton State TexAnns, a well-known Division II team in the Lonestar conference.
In the first match of the doubleheader, the Lady Eagles played a close game up until the final innings.
“Tarleton’s pitchers shut us down,” junior Kala Ratliff said. “We had a few key hits that allowed us to score the first game, but overall they kept our bats quiet.”
Oklahoma Christian scored on a dropped third strike. Chatigny slapped to left field, and after a failed attempt to dive and catch the ball, Peoples went from first to home to score for the Lady Eagles, evening the score at 1-1.
However, the TexAnns refused to give up and scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, four of those coming from a grand slam. With no response from the Lady Eagles in the seventh inning, Tarleton State won the game 6-1.
In the second matchup, the Lady Eagles struggled again at the plate, recording only five hits total.
After a steady progression of runs each inning with no response, the TexAnns beat the Lady Eagles 7-0.
Sophomore Taylor Mosher pitched five innings for the Lady Eagles, allowing nine hits and six runs. Sophomore Krystal Rodriguez came in for relief and allowed one run in one inning.
“I think we became closer, found some things we need to work on, improved on most things and noticed we needed to have more fun,” Pierce said. “It also taught us that we never should give up.”
After a long week, the Lady Eagles will return to the road today to face St. Edward’s University in a three-game series.