Lady Eagles debut in new stadium, falling twice to No. 8 West Texas A&M

OC freshman Shea Coats throws a pitch to a West Texas A&M batter on Tuesday during the Lady Eagles' first game at Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza. Coats finished with 14 strikeouts.
OC freshman Shea Coats throws a pitch to a West Texas A&M batter on Tuesday during the Lady Eagles' first game at Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza. Coats finished with 14 strikeouts.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 18, 2014) – Oklahoma Christian’s first games in its new softball stadium didn’t go quite as the Lady Eagles hoped – probably due to the quality of the opponent.

On a glorious February afternoon with temperatures in the 70s, No. 8-ranked West Texas A&M crashed the party at Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza, posting a pair of shutouts over OC, winning 5-0 and 10-0.

OC fell to 3-4 on the season with the two losses. But the experience of being able to compete in a new stadium – one that coach Tom Heath long had dreamed of for his program – was one he won’t soon forget.

“This stadium was a long time coming,” Heath said. “We are so grateful to Ricky and Kelly Lawson for what they have done for our program.’

The Lawsons, whose financial gifts paved the way for the construction of the stadium, received the honor of throwing out the first pitches at the facility in one of the day’s many highlights.

In the first game, West Texas A&M – which moved to 13-0 and could be ranked No. 1 or No. 2 when the first NCAA Division II regular-season rankings are released Wednesday – eventually figured out OC freshman starting pitcher Shea Coats.

Coats (2-1) struck out 14 batters in 5 2/3 innings, but also walked five and hit another. The Buffs picked up their first two runs on just one hit in the third inning, then kept chipping away, scoring single runs in each of the next three innings.

Tyler Wilkinson had a RBI single in the fourth, Kaisha Dacosin hit a solo home run over the left-center field wall in the fifth and Renee Erwin added a RBI double in the sixth, chasing Coats. Krystal Rodriguez pitched the rest of the way for the Lady Eagles.

OC had at least one baserunner in six of its seven at-bats. Monique Elliott reached third base with one out in the sixth, but West Texas A&M starter Rita Hokianga fanned Martha Thomas and Niki Davidson. In the seventh, the Lady Eagles loaded the bases with one out but Lauren Chatigny popped up and Elliott struck out to end the game.

Hokianga (7-0) allowed six hits and struck out 12. Kendra Pierce was the only OC batter with more than one hit, finishing 2-of-3, including the Lady Eagles’ first basehit in their new stadium, a solid single up the middle in the first inning. She later stole second base to record another OC “first” in the stadium.

The Buffs hit three home runs – by Alyssa Lemos, Jessica Sipe and Lacey Taylor – in the second game to take control, after OC left eight batters on base during the first four innings. The Lady Eagles had the bases loaded in the first, but Jordan Chism grounded out.

West Texas A&M pitcher Hannah Newcomb (4-0) went the distance, retiring 10 straight batters in one stretch and finishing with a three-hitter, allowing singles by Elliott, Kala Ratliff and Abby Taliaferro.

Sipe went 2-for-2 with a home run, a triple, three RBIs and two runs scored while Erwin went 3-for-5 and Lemos went 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Buffs.

OC starting pitcher Taylor Mosher (1-2) took the loss, throwing five innings over two stints during the game and allowing seven hits and six runs.

“West Texas A&M has a quality program and is a very good team,” Heath said.

It was the first time OC had been shut out in both ends of a doubleheader since March 9, 2010, when the Lady Eagles were blanked twice at Oklahoma City University.

OC will return to action on Friday in San Antonio, taking on Eastern New Mexico and Midwestern State (Texas).