(Game Recap Courtesy Gerard LeCanu)
It was two completely different games, but the only one that counts is the one that goes down in the box score as the St. Mary’s Lady Rattlers rolled to a 10-1 victory over Southeastern Oklahoma State in the third game of the NCAA Div. II South Central Regional softball tournament.
What started as a pitchers duel ended as a blow out with 10 of the game’s 11 runs coming in the final two innings.
The Savage Storm of Southeastern Oklahoma got the scoring started early with a run in the bottom of the first. Center fielder Kylie Ferguson scored on dropped third-strike as Southeastern was attempting a suicide-squeeze with bases loaded.
For the next four innings, both sides bore down with Southeaster’s Christina Cearley allowing only three base runners through the first five frames and scattering five hits over five innings.
In the fifth innings, both teams threatened but each stranded two runners.
With Southeastern Okla. only four outs away from advancing in the winner bracket, sophomore catcher Kelcy Walker belted a two RBI homerun that just missed the top of the fence and the fair poll down the left field line.
When asked about the run explosion, Walker offered, “All the pitches were coming in slow and low. We just had to be patient and wait on it.”
Walker was followed by freshman Jessica Romero who knocked a solo shot over the center field fence.
This set a comfort level for the team to really relax after two straight losses to the Savage Storm. “One run was not necessarily enough with our jitters. When Jessica [Romero] followed through with that homerun, I felt two runs would be enough.”
Cearley’s day was ended shortly there after when she gave up her third consecutive extra base hit when Mary K Pederson doubled off the left center field fence.
The Lady Rattlers would add two more runs off reliever Jami McAdoo before the inning came to a close as senior Amanda McKenzie double to score Pederson and pinch runner Sarah Cooper scored on a dropped fly by the Savage Storm right fielder.
The seventh lead off right where the sixth ended as the Rattler quickly loaded the bases for Kelcy Walker. On a low inside change-up, Walker added her second homerun of the game and her first career grand slam to put St. Mary’s up 9-1.
“I think when [Walker] got that homerun, that just kind of opened the doors for us. It helped everyone relax” said Fields.
The Lady Rattlers added one more tally before the game was done.
On the mound, sophomore Malissa Magee pitched a complete game, striking out eight batters on her way to her 28th victory of the season (28-10). St. Mary’s advances in the winners bracket and will face No. 8 Incarnate Word Friday at 6:30 p.m.