Photo Courtesy: UCA Athletics (Bradley Widding)
Stillwater, Okla. (UCA) - The Central Arkansas softball team found itself in an unfamiliar situation on Wednesday afternoon, falling 10-2 in five innings to Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State (14-12) jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the first inning. Catcher Tamara Brown drew a walk to lead off the inning, but was followed by a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout. With a 2-2 count, right fielder Sam Chrisman blasted the offering from Central Arkansas' Kelsie Armstrong, driving the pitch over the center field wall and off the top of the batter's eye, giving the Cowgirls the 2-0 lead.
The Cowgirls extended their lead in the bottom of the third inning, sending seven batters to the plate. Brown again got the offense started, doubling off the center field wall to open the inning. A Central Arkansas (19-7, 3-0 SLC) fielding error on a ground ball by left fielder Shannon Kaufman gave Oklahoma State runners on the corners with no outs. A fly out to left and a walk put Central Arkansas in an even bigger jam, loading the bases with one down. Third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson came through for the Cowgirls, placing a double just inches inside the foul line to plate Brown and Kaufman and push the OSU lead to 4-0. A sacrifice fly to center field brought in one more run, making the lead 5-0.
Central Arkansas came to life in the top of the fourth inning, putting together a two-out rally to pull within three. After a strikeout and a pop out started the inning, designated player Sarah Bigej drew a walk and third baseman Tiffany Roby was hit by a pitch, giving the Bears runners on first and second. Shortstop Lissa Avitia came through for Central Arkansas, lacing a double just inside the left field line to score Bigej and Roby and put the score at 5-2 in favor of the Cowgirls.
Oklahoma State responded emphatically in the bottom of the frame. With one out, shortstop Gessenia de la Cruz turned a pitch around, hitting her first home run of the season over the left field fence.
Brown collected her second double of the day, coming in to score when designated player Tiffany Ettinger hit a home run of her own to left field, ending the day for Armstrong. Crisman roped a single to right field off of new UCA hurler Ciara Clampitt, and Mikkelson got in on the act as well, hitting the third OSU home run of the inning to left field. A groundout ended the inning with the Cowgirls leading 10-2.
With the run-rule hanging over the game, the Bears went quietly in the top of the fifth, striking out twice and flying out to left field to end the game.
Kelsie Armstrong (12-5) suffered the loss for the Bears, allowing eight runs on six hits and three walks in 3.2 innings of work. She struck out two Cowgirls. Ciara Clampitt threw 0.1 innings for Central Arkansas allowing two runs on two hits. The pair combined to allow four home runs on the day. Kat Espinosa (7-6) earned the win for Oklahoma State on the back of four innings of two run, two hit softball. She issued one walk and struck out seven. Simone Freeman worked a scoreless inning, striking out two in the process.
Central Arkansas looks to return to the win column this weekend, traveling to Huntsville, Texas to face off with Southland Conference foe Sam Houston State for a trio of games. On Saturday the Bears and the Bearkats will play a double-header beginning at 1:00 in the afternoon. The pair of teams will close the series out with a single game on Sunday at noon.
Next week, Central Arkansas will take the middle of the week off before traveling to Houston, Texas to play new SLC member Houston Baptist in a three game set.