Softball sets focus on NCCAA Regionals

Photo by: Henoc Kivuye

 

This past week the Oklahoma Christian University Lady Eagles softball team faced two rival teams. The Lady Eagles went 1-2 for the week, but gained experience from the matchups.

On Tuesday, March 26 the Lady Eagles battled in a doubleheader against old-time foes Southern Nazarene University.

The Crimson Storm jumped on Oklahoma Christian early, winning the first game 12-4.

In the first matchup, Southern Nazarene recorded 15 hits, capitalizing on Oklahoma Christian’s four errors.

In the first three innings the Lady Eagles held their own, but as time wore on, the Crimson Storm gained momentum. Oklahoma Christian would only score one more run in the seventh inning in an attempt to make a comeback.

“In the first game, our defense made four errors, allowing four of their runs to be unearned,” assistant coach Jessica Ruckman said. “We didn’t score until the third inning and only scored again in the sixth. SNU was able to consistently push runs across the board five of the seven innings we played.”

Sophomore Monique Elliot and junior Martha Thomas led the team with two hits each. Freshman Danielle Collins, sophomore Courtney Starr and juniors Lauren Chatigny, Kala Ratliff and Sarah Peoples added one hit each.

Senior Lindsy Moore started on the mound for the Lady Eagles and allowed seven hits and six runs in four innings. Sophomore Krystal Rodriguez came in as relief and allowed five hits and three runs in one inning, and Collins finished the game allowing three hits and three runs.

In the second game, the Lady Eagles were determined to make the best of the situation.

“The difference between the first and second game, I think, was that we just started off the second game attacking the ball when we were hitting,” Chatigny said. “We also had a more solid defense during the second game. Our team seems to usually perform a lot better the second game, and I don’t know if we just get more comfortable or what, but it seems to be a pattern with us.”

The Lady Eagles had a solid start with five runs in the first inning and continued to score throughout five innings to end the game with a run-rule, 9-1.

Oklahoma Christian recorded 10 hits, while Southern Nazarene had only five.

Chatigny, Ratliff, Pittman and Peoples each recorded two hits, while Elliot and Starr had one each.

“In the second game, there was more intensity, and we were more aggressive at the plate,” Pittman said. “We didn’t give up after the first game and we came back and fought hard to win the second game.”

Sophomore Taylor Mosher threw all five innings, allowing five hits and one run. Mosher also received the Heartland Conference Pitcher of the Week for her performance on Tuesday.

Ratliff took home honors as the Heartland conference Player of the Week.

“It’s such a great accomplishment to receive awards in the Heartland Conference, and I am very proud of these two girls for what they achieved last week,” Ruckman said. “They have both worked extremely hard and greatly deserve the recognition.”

The rivalry with this former SAC conference foe has not skipped a beat, despite the departure of the Lady Eagles from the NAIA.

“I think that OC and SNU have always had a decently equal amount of talent, and that makes it even more challenging when we play each other,” Mosher said. “Both teams know that they have to play their best in order to get a win.”

The next game for the Lady Eagles would be down the road at the University of Central Oklahoma. The Lady Bronchos, a team with a history of national tournament trips and titles, ended the game in five innings.

The game started out at an even pace, but eventually escalated out of hand in the fifth inning when Central Oklahoma put up five runs to end the game 8-0.

In order for the Lady Eagles to go to the NCCAA Regional tournament, they must keep above a .500 record for their season. This meant the game against Central Oklahoma was one of great importance.

“I think the mood going into the UCO game was that we really needed a win,” Mosher said. “We all had multiple days off before the game, due to Easter, so we were just trying to get back into the groove of things in a successful manner.”

Starr had Oklahoma Christian’s only two hits of the game, and the Lady Eagles made one error.

Moore started off for the Lady Eagles, allowing one hit and three runs in three innings.

Mosher came in as relief and allowed five hits and five runs, while Rodriguez ended the game, allowing one hit.

As for the remaining games of the season, the Lady Eagles must continue to try and win every single game to ensure a postseason.

“The team goal for the rest of the season is to win the games we have left on our schedule, qualify for nationals and compete the way we know we can,” Moore said. “That goal will only become a reality when we all have the heart it takes to do it. We need to put in as many extra hours of practice as we can. We need to light a fire in ourselves, and we need to get our mentality straight before we play each game.”

 

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