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Starr’s walkoff HR lifts OC past St. Edward’s, but Hilltoppers take 2nd game

Courtney Starr hit a walkoff home run to beat St. Edward's on Friday.
Courtney Starr hit a walkoff home run to beat St. Edward's on Friday.

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 4, 2014) – Courtney Starr provided Oklahoma Christian with one dramatic, game-winning hit on Friday but the Lady Eagles couldn’t quite come up with another.

Starr’s solo home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh lifted OC to a 3-2 win over St. Edward’s (Texas) in the first game of a Heartland Conference doubleheader at Tom Heath Field, but the Lady Eagles left the potential tying run at third base in the seventh inning of the second game and fell 4-3 to the Hilltoppers.

OC (25-13, 9-5 Heartland) and St. Edward’s (24-17, 9-8) will square off in the series’ decisive game on Saturday at noon and the result could go a long way toward determining which team will finish higher in the league standings. OC currently is third in the league, the Hilltoppers fifth.

“For me, it was a disappointing loss tonight, especially when I thought we were the better team and had more opportunities,” OC coach Tom Heath said. “But, like I told them, it’s important that we come out tomorrow and play a good ballgame and take the series.”

As the scores suggest, both games were tightly contested. The first game was a pitching duel between OC freshman Shea Coats (14-2) and St. Edward’s junior Sarah Debrow (11-8). Debrow allowed only five hits and struck out three, while Coats gave up eight hits and struck out six. Neither hurler walked a batter.

St. Edward’s took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when Alex Mayfield reached on an infield single and scored on a double by Faith Roberts. In the second, OC caught a break when Roberts, the St. Edward’s catcher, dropped an easy foul popup by Martha Thomas. Thomas slugged the next pitch over the right-field wall to tie the game.

Kendra Pierce doubled and scored on Starr’s double in the fourth to put OC ahead. The Hilltoppers tied the game in the sixth on a RBI triple by Cydney Ervin, but Starr capped a 3-for-3 performance with her walkoff home run over the left-field fence.

“I thought we played a total game – good pitching, good defense, Courtney went 3-for-3 with the walkoff home run,” Heath said. “Moose (Thomas), again, hit a home run. It was a hard-fought game.”

OC loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, but came away empty, which proved to haunt the Lady Eagles later in the game. They led 2-1 after Thomas’ RBI single in the third, but St. Edward’s tied the game in the fifth against OC starter Haley Squier (2-5), thanks to an infield single by Kendall Lucas and a run-scoring double by Emily Mayfield.

The Hilltoppers scored twice off Squier in the top of the seventh. Emily Mayfield’s single scored Alex Mayfield, who had walked, and Emily Mayfield scored on a double down the left-field line by Lauren Brode.

St. Edward’s starter Katelyn Klug (13-7) ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. Pinch-hitter Jordan Chism led off with a double to the left-center field gap and another pinch-hitter, Danielle Collins, followed with a single and ended up at third base after the Hilltoppers threw wildly to home plate, trying unsuccessfully to keep Chism from scoring.

That brought up the top of the OC batting order, but Kala Ratliff popped up and Lauren Chatigny and Pierce both grounded out, ending the threat.

Heath praised the performance of Squier, who walked three and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings. But he was frustrated with what he saw as squandered opportunities for the Lady Eagles.

“The second game wasn’t so good,” Heath said. “It was just one of those times when we didn’t play our best game. The kids tried. We fought hard but we just made too many mistakes and it cost us. Tomorrow is another day, though.”