OKLAHOMA CITY (March 6, 2014) – The way Kala Ratliff was hitting the ball on Thursday, Emporia State (Kan.) was fortunate that she didn’t come to the plate with the softball game on the line.
Ratliff – who was 5-for-5 with four RBIs to that point – was on deck but never made it to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning, allowing Emporia State to escape with a wild 13-12 win over the Lady Eagles at Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza, after OC had rallied from a six-run deficit to take the lead.
The win allowed Emporia State (11-4) to earn a split with OC (9-8), as the Lady Eagles used a six-run fourth inning to beat the Hornets 8-4 in the first game of the doubleheader.
“Of course, you’re disappointed any time you lose a game like (the second contest),” OC coach Tom Heath said. “But we were so pleased with the way we fought back, being down by (six) runs late in the game. We did a great job coming back. … It was a slugfest and they just managed to get one extra run on us.”
The hastily scheduled doubleheader was played after both teams had lost multiple games to weather earlier this season. It snowed in north Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, but with OC’s new artificial turf field, the Lady Eagles and Hornets were able to play without any issues a day later.
The top of OC’s order did the most damage for the Lady Eagles in the doubleheader. Ratliff finished 6-for-7 with two walks, six RBIs and four runs scored while batting in the leadoff spot, while No. 2 hitter Lauren Chatigny went 6-for-8. The rest of the team had 15 hits combined in the two games.
“We were very pleased to see the hitting come around, with really the whole team,” Heath said. “But Yoda (Ratliff) and Lauren had career days. They couldn’t hardly get them out. Overall, we swung the bats well.”
In the opener, OC lined into two double plays in the first two innings and fell behind 2-0 before jumping on Emporia State starter Kaitlyn Caston in the fourth, sending 12 batters to the plate. Ratliff’s two-run single was the big blow and Chatigny and Abby Taliaferro added RBI hits.
After Emporia State pulled within 6-4 with single runs in the top of the fifth and sixth, Kendra Pierce lined a two-run home run over the left-field fence to seal the win.
With starter Shea Coats (6-2) on a pitch count, Krystal Rodriguez entered in relief in the fifth inning and pitched the final 2 2/3 innings to record her first save of the season. Coats struck out six batters and Rodriguez three.
The second game featured numerous twists and turns. The Hornets took a 4-1 lead in the top of the third, but OC rallied with four runs in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead. Emporia State answered with three runs in the fourth and four in the fifth to make it 11-5.
Once again, OC had an answer, responding with a five-run fifth –highlighted by a two-run single by Ratliff and a two-run double by Chatigny – that closed the gap to 11-10.
Ratliff followed Sarah Endres’ triple to right-center field with a home run over the left-center field wall in the bottom of the sixth to put OC ahead 12-11. But the Lady Eagles couldn’t hold the lead, as Jessica Gragg hit a two-run double off reliever Haley Squier (1-2) in the top of the seventh to put Emporia State back ahead.
Then, for the first time in the doubleheader, Caston – who entered the game in the fifth in relief of starter Eryn Stockman – retired the Lady Eagles in order in the bottom of the inning, improving her season record to 9-3.
Gragg and Jacie Stephens finished with three RBIs each in the second game for the Hornets.