OKLAHOMA CITY (April 18, 2014) – Mid-April is the time most softball teams begin thinking about Senior Day. But before Oklahoma Christian does that next week, the Lady Eagles had a Freshman Day of sorts on Friday afternoon.
Pitcher Shea Coats and catcher Niki Davidson – both in their first collegiate season – led the Lady Eagles to an 8-0 win over Newman (Kan.) in five innings at Tom Heath Field, completing a three-game sweep of the Heartland Conference series between the teams.
Coats threw her fourth straight shutout, a two-hitter, and extended her streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 27, while Davidson went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and four RBIs. OC (32-14, 14-6 Heartland) sealed at least a third-place regular-season conference finish with the win, which coach Tom Heath said was a goal at the start of the season.
OC has won 19 of its last 22 games, a run that includes road wins over the defending NCAA Division II champion, Central Oklahoma, and then-No. 3-ranked St. Mary’s (Texas).
“We are playing well right now,” Heath said. “Everybody understands their role at this time and everybody is filling their role. We’ve got great support from everybody on the team, helping each other out. It’s a true team effort and we’re going to keep on that roll as long as we can.”
Newman (15-27, 6-15) threatened but once against Coats, taking advantage of two early walks to put runners on second and third base with two outs in the first inning, but Coats recovered to strike out Jensen Cromer looking to end the inning.
Coats (18-2) allowed only a third-inning double to Mikayla Medbery and a fourth-inning single to Missy Swanson, but neither runner advanced. One day after striking out nine Jets, Coats recorded seven Ks.
“Shea is a special pitcher,” Heath said. “She is a very talented pitcher, very competitive player. She is having a great freshman year.”
Davidson’s home run, her third of the season, broke a scoreless tie with one out in the second. She also played a key role in a two-run fourth inning, as Martha Thomas, Courtney Starr and Davidson smashed consecutive doubles off Newman starter Kelsey Jones (6-8) to open the inning.
The Lady Eagles sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth and finished the game off with a five-run outburst. Davidson had the big blow, a two-run, bases-loaded single. Monique Elliott followed with a run-scoring single to make it 7-0, and Kala Ratliff reached on a two-out error, allowing Elliott to scoot across the plate with the winning run.
“Niki has tremendous power,” Heath said. “She’s developed that competitive offensive power. It took her a while to get used to college ball, but right now, she is awesome – hitting the long ball, hitting line drives off the fence, knocking in runs. She had a monster game today and she’s doing a great job behind the plate as well.”
OC will finish conference play next Friday and Saturday, hosting Texas A&M International, which entered the weekend in fifth place in the Heartland standings. OC could still finish tied for second in league play with a sweep, if second-place Lubbock Christian (Texas) drops two of three games at Oklahoma Panhandle State.
The series sweep of Newman also improved OC’s home record in its first season at Tom Heath Field to an impressive 19-4. OC won’t play another game away from home until the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship, should the Lady Eagles qualify for that event.