By RANGERS ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
Northwestern Oklahoma State University Softball got a much needed doubleheader sweep over Great American Conference opponent Ouachita Baptist as they make their late-season playoff push to move up in the standings.
Newly appointed head coach Jill Webb‘s Rangers had their high powered offense on full display April 14 as they swatted six home runs led by Macy Madewell who had herself an afternoon, launching three home runs in her 3-for-4 performance. Northwestern took game one 9-0 before staving off a Tiger rally to hang on to an 8-5 win in game two.
Northwestern needed just an hour and four minutes to handle Ouachita in the series opener on a windy afternoon at the Alva Recreation Complex. Madison Garza picked up her eighth win after tossing five innings of shutout softball. Garza held the Tigers to just three hits without walking a batter and notching four strikeouts in the run-rule shortened contest.
The Rangers capitalized on a trio of Tiger errors in the opening frame as they picked up a pair of early runs. Despite ranking near the top of the conference in fielding percentage, Ouachita Baptist’s defense struggled all day long while uncharacteristically committing eight errors over the course of two games.
Northwestern got the bats going in the second when three straight hits were capped off by Madi Parrott and her two run double to the fence in left. Madewell kicked off her banner day in the fourth by crushing a three run shot over the wall in dead center for her seventh home run of the 2017 campaign.
Entering play hitting .258 as a team, the Tigers were unable to solve Garza as the right hander kept the visitors at bay for the better part of the afternoon. Ouachita almost cracked Garza in the fourth when a leadoff single by Sarah Johnson was followed by a stand-up double from Macy Nantz, but the junior pitcher sat down three straight to end the threat, stranding runners at second and third.
A 9-0 contest was ended early by run rule as the Rangers handed the Tigers their third straight loss.
The long ball was the theme of the second game as the Northwestern offense combined to hit an impressive five home runs. Madewell stole the show as the right fielder clobbered two more to bring her season total to nine, good enough for a tie for fourth in the GAC.
Karly Murray was in the circle for the Rangers in game two and the Hinton, Oklahoma product cruised through the first three innings before the Tigers broke through for their first run of the day in the fourth inning. A leadoff single and an error by Parrott came around to score, but that would be all in the frame.
Northwestern got the crowd into it right from the get-go when Madison McGraw sent one into the jet stream with one out in the first. Madewell, not to be outdone, tagged her second of the day to give the Rangers a 2-0 first inning advantage.
After Megan Sanders reached safely in the bottom of the second, Peyton Garrett sent a charge into a ball for her second home run of the season. Madewell would launch another one in the third inning just before junior Jordan Sutton got in on the action as the designated hitter took a 2-0 offering over the wall in left center for her first of the season.
All was going well for the Rangers until Ouachita gave Webb a scare by putting up four runs on Murry in the sixth inning to narrow the lead to 8-5 in favor of Northwestern. But Webb elected to send the right hander out there to try to close out her seventh victory and she did just that. Northwestern hung on to take game two 8-5 for their second doubleheader sweep of the year.
The next day of the series was an emotional day as Ranger Nation gave their four seniors a proper sendoff.
Before the games, Alexis Hayes, Morgan Lewis, Amber Mills and Sanders were honored for their dedicated service to the Softball program, accompanied by family and friends from all over the country. The Rangers picked up a much needed victory in game one, handing Ouachita Baptist a 5-2 loss before falling 15-4 in the series finale.
Garza picked up her ninth win as the Rangers continued to solidify their place in the Great American Conference tournament held May 4-6 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Garza was spectacular once again as the right handed slinger continually crushed Ouachita Baptist’s would-be rallies, holding the Tigers to just one earned run on their seven hits.
Northwestern’s four graduating seniors were the story of the day and they did not disappoint in their farewell. Sanders drove in the game’s first run when she smacked a base hit up the middle to score Audrey Estes in the second. Sanders ended an 0-for-11 slide in a big way on senior day as the four-year Ranger raised her season average to .257 by driving in her 18th run.
The Tigers would get their only runs in the third when a two-out error on the infield scored a pair of unearned runs off of Garza. That gave OUA starter Kelsey O’Brien a lead that she was able to hang on to until the Rangers tied it up in the fifth thanks to a Madewell RBI single.
A three run sixth knocked O’Brien from the game after Mills smoked a ball over the center fielder’s head to score Garrett and senior Hayes. Parrott added an insurance run with a seeing-eye double that flirted with the left field line, allowing Mills to score from second.
Despite going 0-for-2 at the dish, senior Lewis put together two quality at bats in her first start of the year. Lewis almost took O’Brien deep when she took the first pitch she saw all the way to the wall for a deep lineout in the second.
The Rangers took game three 5-2 to guarantee a series win over Ouachita Baptist.
Looking to roll over the Tigers for a series sweep, the Rangers sent Murray out for the series finale. Northwestern was downed 15-4 after the Tigers managed eight runs in the top of the sixth, putting what was a close contest out of reach for the Rangers.
Mills made her last game at the Alva Recreational Complex one to remember as the senior went 4-for-4 including a first inning home run that bounced off the top of the fence and out for her fourth deep fly of the season. Mills raised her average 17 points this weekend to .237 and her three RBI’s in game two brought her season total to 21. Designated hitter Sutton also hit her second home run in as many days when the junior gave their Rangers their second straight inning with a leadoff homerun.
But what was once a close game got away from Northwestern late. The Tiger offense broke out for 16 hits between Murray and reliever Jalena Arthur, including a sixth inning that saw the visitors put up eight runs on seven hits that effectively thwarted any chance of a Ranger sweep. Ouachita designated hitter Macy Nantz was the Tiger’s best bat as she went 4-for-5, driving in two runs and hitting a home run.
Northwestern would drop the run-rule shortened contest 15-4 to wrap up their 2017 home campaign.