Lady Eagles earn split with defending NCAA Division II national champs

OC freshman pitcher Shea Coats threw a three-hitter to beat defending national champion Central Oklahoma on Tuesday.
OC freshman pitcher Shea Coats threw a three-hitter to beat defending national champion Central Oklahoma on Tuesday.

EDMOND, Okla. (April 1, 2014) – As Oklahoma Christian built a double-digit winning streak, some wondered just how good are the Lady Eagles?  They provided a telling answer on Tuesday – good enough to beat the defending NCAA Division II national champions on the road.

Behind freshman pitcher Shea Coats’ three-hitter, OC beat Central Oklahoma 3-1 at Broncho Field in the first game of a doubleheader, extending the Lady Eagles’ winning streak to 11 games. UCO used a six-run inning in the second game to salvage a split with an 8-3 win over OC.

The win in the first game marked the third time this season that OC (24-12) has beaten a team currently either ranked in the Division II top 25 or receiving votes in the national poll. UCO (27-9) was 30th in the balloting for the most recent poll but entered the doubleheader having won 18 of its last 19 games.

“We really hit the ball pretty well,” OC coach Tom Heath said. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get them to fall. Shea had a great pitching performance in the first game and overall our defense had a great day and made some great plays.”

Coats (13-2) outdueled one of Division II’s best pitchers, UCO senior Kalynn Schrock, in the opener. Before giving up a seventh-inning solo home run to Brooke Zukerman, Coats allowed the Bronchos only a pair of singles while recording seven strikeouts against no walks.

OC scored all of its runs in the fourth inning against Schrock (15-6). Kendra Pierce led off with a single to right field before Schrock hit reigning Heartland Conference hitter of the week Martha Thomas with an 0-2 pitch. One out later, Courtney Starr doubled to right field, scoring Pierce. Thomas came home on a fielding error by Zukerman, the right fielder, and Starr came around to score on the play on a second fielding error, by third baseman Ashton Smith.

The way Coats was pitching, those three runs proved to be enough, even as Schrock – who pitched all 61 innings for UCO in last year’s national tournament and was named as the most valuable player in the Division II World Series – was limiting the Lady Eagles to four hits.

In the second game, OC and the Bronchos were locked in a 2-2 battle before UCO jumped on OC starter Taylor Mosher (6-5) and reliever Krystal Rodriguez for six runs in the sixth. Hannah Justus delivered the big blow for the Bronchos, a three-run homer over the left-field fence. Devyn Frazier and Ally Dziadula later added RBI triples in the inning.

UCO starter Nicole Brady (6-0) went the distance in the circle, allowing six hits. For OC, Starr and Monique Elliott each had a pair of those hits and Lauren Pittman added a RBI single.

“In the second game, we weren’t able to string hits together to score runs, but we stayed tough and fought until the last out,” Heath said. “I’m proud of our effort overall today.”

OC will host St. Edward’s (Texas) on Friday and Saturday in a key Heartland Conference series.