OKLAHOMA CITY (April 5, 2014) – In a softball series that featured three one-run decisions in as many games, it was Martha Thomas and Kendra Pierce who came up with the key hits for Oklahoma Christian on Saturday afternoon against St. Edward’s (Texas).
Thomas’ three-run homer in the first inning was OC’s only hit until the fifth, when Pierce capped a two-run rally with a run-scoring single that put the Lady Eagles ahead for good in a 5-4 win over St. Edward’s in the decisive game of a Heartland Conference series at Tom Heath Field.
OC (26-13, 10-5 Heartland) solidified its hold on third place in the conference standings, two games ahead of fourth-place Texas A&M International. St. Edward’s (24-18, 9-9) missed a chance to ease ahead of TAMIU and remained in fifth place, although the Hilltoppers are in good shape to make the conference tournament, for which OC is ineligible.
OC and St. Edward’s split a pair of one-run games on Friday and OC coach Tom Heath was glad to see the Lady Eagles come through on Saturday to take the series. Rattling off a list of key contributors, he mentioned no fewer than nine players who contributed with their pitching, hitting, defense or baserunning.
“Clutch hits, good pitching and good defense,” Heath said. “That’s what it takes to beat a team like St. Ed’s.”
The teams combined for six unearned runs (out of seven) during the first 1½ innings. St. Edward’s went up 1-0 in the top of the first, as Kaci Olson singled and ended up at third base after the ball got away from OC left fielder Courtney Starr before scoring on a single by Alex Mayfield.
OC quickly answered in the bottom of the inning. Olson, the St. Edward’s second baseman, committed consecutive errors allowing Lauren Chatigny and Kendra Pierce to reach base and Thomas followed with a shot into the wind that hit off the top of the right-field wall and bounced over for a home run – her second of the series and eighth of the season.
“Martha is known for … getting big hits like that,” Heath said. “It kept us in the game for a while.”
The Hilltoppers scored three runs (two unearned) in the second, two on a triple by Olson to left field, to take a 4-3 lead. St. Edward’s starter Sarah Debrow (11-9) held the Lady Eagles without a hit until the fifth, when pinch-hitter Jordan Chism singled down the left-field line with one out.
Sarah Endres ran for Chism and went to third base on a single to right field by Starr. Starr stole second base before Endres scampered home on a passed ball by St. Edward’s catcher Faith Roberts, tying the game with two outs.
Pierce then sent a sharp single to center field, scoring Starr from third base with the go-ahead run.
OC freshman pitcher Shea Coats relieved starter Taylor Mosher (7-5) to start the sixth inning and retired five straight Hilltoppers before running into trouble, allowing seventh-inning singles to Alex Mayfield and Kendall Lucas. Emily Mayfield followed with a hard-hit ball, but OC first baseman Lauren Pittman fielded it cleanly and won the race to the base for the final out, giving Coats her fifth save.
“One thing we did a great job on was defense,” Heath said. “We made some great defensive plays at the end of the game to save us. It was a total team effort.”
Debrow went the distance in the circle for the Hilltoppers, allowing five hits.
OC will host Cameron on Tuesday in a nonconference doubleheader before traveling to San Antonio for a three-game series with league-leading and No. 5-ranked St. Mary’s (Texas).