OKLAHOMA CITY (May 9, 2014) – Freshman Shea Coats continues to dominate in the pitching circle, Oklahoma Christian batters continue pounding out the hits and the Lady Eagles keep rolling in the postseason.
Making her postseason debut, Coats struck out nine batters and threw a three-hit shutout to lead OC past Colorado Christian 9-0 in five innings on Friday in the winners’ bracket final of the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region tournament at Tom Heath Field.
OC (38-14) is one win away from earning its first national-tournament appearance since 2003, when the Lady Eagles qualified for the NAIA tournament. The second-seeded Lady Eagles will play either top-seeded Central Baptist (Ark.) or fourth-seeded Colorado Christian on Saturday at 1 p.m., with an if-necessary game scheduled for 3 p.m.
The tournament winner will advance to the NCCAA Championship next week in Troutville, Va.
Central Baptist (37-9) and Colorado Christian (21-27) will meet in an elimination game at 11 a.m. Colorado Christian knocked off Central Baptist 8-3 in their first meeting on Thursday. Defending regional champion Central Baptist has worked its way through the losers’ bracket, beating Hillsdale Baptist 11-0 and Mid-America Christian 5-4 on Friday.
OC made quick work of Colorado Christian on Friday, jumping on the Cougars early and never letting them back in the game. The Lady Eagles have won 10 straight games, their second straight double-digit winning streak of the season, with all three tournament wins coming by the run rule. OC has outscored its three regional opponents by a combined 42-2.
“We played a complete game today,” OC coach Tom Heath said. “Shea did a great job pitching, our defense was good and a lot of different players got some big hits.”
Colorado Christian starter Mariah Bledsoe (13-12), starting her third game in two days, lasted only five batters and didn’t retire any of them. Coach Daven Bond pulled her after she issued consecutive bases-loaded walks to Martha Thomas and Niki Davidson. Reliever Keely Gray then did the same to Courtney Starr, putting OC ahead 3-0.
Monique Elliott had a RBI single in a two-run third inning for OC and Sarah Endres delivered the big blow in a four-run fourth, a two-run double to left-center field that made it 9-0.
Coats (21-2) won her 19th straight decision, allowing only two Colorado Christian runners to reach third base. The Cougars looked to have loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth, but umpires called out pinch-hitter Gabriella Thury after they ruled Bond hadn’t reported her appearance in the game to them as required by rule. That unusual call ended the game, due to the run rule.
“We’ve still got to realize that she’s at the end of her freshman year,” Heath said of Coats. “She’s still learning some things, but she’s a raw talent. She’s just an outstanding pitcher and we’re happy that she’s available for us and she’s pitching well.”
Starr, Elliott and Endres all had two RBIs each for OC, while Kendra Pierce continued her sizzling tournament run, going 2-for-3. She’s 10-for-12 in three tournament games, improving her season batting average to .371.
In earlier games Friday, Hillsdale Baptist beat Crowley’s Ridge (Ark.) 11-7 and Mid-America Christian rolled past Ecclesia (Ark.) 17-3 in elimination games.