Coats throws another shutout, Thomas, Pittman homer in sweep of Newman

Lauren Pittman homered for OC in the second game of a doubleheader sweep of Newman.
Lauren Pittman homered for OC in the second game of a doubleheader sweep of Newman.

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 17, 2014) – Shea Coats and Martha Thomas continued their respective dominance on Thursday night, a combination that makes Oklahoma Christian tough to beat.

Coats threw her third straight shutout – a two-hitter – to lead OC past Newman (Kan.) 3-0 in the first game of a softball doubleheader at Tom Heath Field, then Thomas and Lauren Pittman homered in the second game as the Lady Eagles won 10-5.

OC (31-14, 13-6 Heartland Conference) will try to finish a sweep of the three-game series against Newman (15-26, 6-14) on Friday at noon. A win would clinch at least a third-place conference regular-season finish for OC in its second season in the NCAA Division II league.

“I’m very proud of our team,” OC coach Tom Heath said. “Those were two good wins for us tonight.”

Coats, the reigning Heartland pitcher of the week after blanking Cameron and then-No. 3-ranked St. Mary’s (Texas) last week, allowed only an infield single by Lacey Cowan in the third inning and a double by Megan McNeill in the sixth. Coats (17-2) has allowed only six hits in her last three starts, all complete games.

She escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third inning, striking out Kelsey Jones and retiring Missy Swanson on a fly ball to left field. That started a run during which Coats retired 14 of the final 15 batters for the Jets.

“Shea has been throwing the ball very well for the last two or three outings,” Heath said. “I think Shea is more relaxed now. She understands what needs to be done, how to pitch instead of just throwing the ball. Shea has done a great job. That team has beaten some pretty good teams.”

A run-scoring single by Lauren Chatigny and a sacrifice fly by Kendra Pierce off Jones (6-7) in the second inning proved to be all the offense the Lady Eagles needed. Sarah Endres and Chatigny both tripled in the fourth, leading to another run to make it 3-0. Chatigny finished 3-for-3 with a walk.

In the second game, the Lady Eagles scored three runs off Newman starter Jensen Cromer (8-16) on just one hit – a single by Monique Elliott – taking advantage of three walks, a fielding error, two passed balls and a wild pitch.

Thomas opened the fourth inning with an opposite-field, into-the-wind blast that carried over the left-center field wall for her ninth home run of the season. Courtney Starr followed with a single and eventually scored on an infield single by Elliott to make it 5-0.

Newman cut the lead to 5-2 in the fourth, as the Jets had three hits off OC starter Taylor Mosher (9-6). The Lady Eagles got those runs back in the fifth, though. Danielle Collins led off with a triple down the right-field line and Niki Davidson followed with a run-scoring single. With two outs, Pittman hit a solo home run to right-center field to make it 7-2.

Sarah Balderas tripled and scored for the Jets in the sixth and the Jets had two runners on with two outs, but Krystal Rodriguez relieved Mosher and recorded the final out. Thomas and Davidson both doubled as OC scored three runs in the bottom of the inning, with Davidson’s shot bringing home two runs and making it 10-3.

“Moose (Thomas) is strong enough to take it out opposite field, into the wind,” Heath said. “I was glad to see (Pittman) hit one out. She hit the ball hard all day, just right at people. I keep telling them, ‘Keep swinging the bat like you have been. Don’t change anything,’ and she got a hold of one.”

Swanson hit a two-run double in the seventh for Newman to account for the final margin, but Rodriguez finished the game to record her second save of the season.