The East Central University softball team finished the 2014 regular season with a split against Ouachita Baptist and claimed the No. 5 seed at the 2014 Great American Conference Tournament. The Lady Tigers (32-18, 22-18 GAC) earned a 8-0 win in five innings in the opening game of the day and then fell 5-7 in the final game.
Before the start of the games, ECU honored its two seniors (Gina Mengwasser and Tarra Underhill-Christy). Mengwasser ended the day with a double and Underhill-Christy scored once and had a sacrifice bunt.
The Lady Tigers were led by sophomore Jordynn VanPelt, with a .714 average, five hits, four RBIs and one run. VanPelt was one of seven ECU players with two-or-more hits for the day, with the team collecting 23 compared to 14 from OBU (18-36, 13-27 GAC).
Redshirt freshman Sydney Dow earned the win in game one and tallied her second-straight shutout and fourth of the season. She allowed just two hits and one walk in the game and struck out six. She also appeared in the second game of the day, allowing three hits and one run.
Junior Brianna Nunley started the final game and threw the first 2.2 innings. Freshman Nicole Nordie threw 2.1 innings and struck out three for the day.
The Lady Tigers will now prepare for their opening game of the 2014 GAC Tournament, Thursday, May 1 against No. 4 Harding in Bentonville, Ark. The game is set to start at 4 p.m. at the Tiger Athletic Complex. The team will play again that night at 8 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.
Game 1 – ECU 8, OBU 0 (5)
The first game of the day started out as a pitchers battle, with only three runners reaching base for each team in the first three innings.
ECU broke the stalemate in the bottom of the fourth, scoring seven runs.
VanPelt started the inning with a home run to center field and opened the gates for runs. Junior Lacey Williams drew a walk and Nordie advanced her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Junior Chelsea Patterson scored the second run with a single to left center and moved to second on the throw home.
Sophomore Lauren Reeves was walked. Underhill-Christy added a run across the plate with a sacrifice bunt attempt that resulted in an error. Junior Kaile Marcum added an RBI with a single bunt and moved to second on a stolen base to put runners on second and third.
Sophomore Autumn Suydam sent two runs home with a single to left and VanPelt came up again and scored the final run of the inning, with a single to left and a 7-0 lead for the Lady Tigers.
OBU got one runner on base in the top of the fifth, but she did not advance past first.
ECU added the last run needed to end the game early in the bottom of the fifth. Nordie doubled to left center and was advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Patterson. Reeves earned the final RBI when she hit a bunt single for the 8-0 win.
Game 2 – OBU 7, ECU 5
OBU came out swinging in the second game of the day, taking a two-run lead in the top of the first.
The Lady Tigers countered with a run in the bottom of the inning. After the first out, Suydam singled, Mengwasser walked and VanPelt singled to load the bases. That allowed Williams to earn an RBI with a single to center field.
OBU added to its lead with a run in the second and two in the third for a 1-5 advantage.
ECU added two runs in the fourth on a two-run home run by junior Samantha McGraw. Patterson had singled to start the inning to put her in place to score when McGraw hit a shot over the left-field fence.
OBU added a run in the fifth to make the score 3-6.
The Lady Tigers started a come-back in the bottom of the sixth and cut the deficit to one. Junior Kayci Snider and Marcum both singled before the first two outs were recorded. VanPelt then hit a double to left center to score the two runs before being called out at third when she tried to advance.
OBU kept fighting and added a run in the top of the seventh to push ahead 5-7.
ECU added runners to the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but were unable to complete the come-back and fell 5-7.