By RANGERS ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT
Ranger Softball broke out for a 9-5 win in the first game on March 31, a doubleheader at Oklahoma Baptist University, but ended up falling 8-1 in game two.
The Rangers rolled into Shawnee with their sights set on making the Great American Conference tournament.
Northwestern capitalized on an OBU error in the first inning for the game’s first run, before Megan Sanders put a dent into a ball for her third home run of the year in the top of the second, scoring Macy Madewell.
With Madison Garza in the circle looking for her fourth win in her last six starts, Oklahoma Baptist was looking at a tall task in solving the junior right hander. Garza continued her recent success by holding the Bison to just two earned runs on 10 hits while recording eight punchouts.
Despite surrendering three unearned in the bottom half of the seventh, Garza managed to hang on to the 9-5 victory for her fifth win of the year. Garza allowed just one free pass in her seven innings of work.
The Rangers found themselves in another close game right up until the sixth when Oklahoma Baptist ran into a big inning. Both Karly Murray and OBU starter McKenzie Jones had success in the early innings, keeping it a scoreless contest until the Rangers broke the tie in the fourth. After McGraw reached on an error by Rachel Birchfield at third, Madewell made the Bison pay by driving in her third RBI of the day to put the Rangers up 1-0.
But OBU answered back in the bottom of the fourth thanks to three straight singles and an error by Corrales, allowing the home team to take a 2-1 lead that they would never surrender. Murray would get some help from her defense in stranding a runner in the fifth after a foul out and Ranger catcher Audrey Estes gunning down Lacy Hillis trying to steal third to keep it a one run game.
Northwestern had a chance in the sixth to erase the deficit when they had runners on second and third, but Jordan Sutton went down swinging to end the threat. The Rangers were unable to avoid a crushing sixth inning.
Following two consecutive walks to start the inning, Jill Webb went to Kendall Jones in an effort to keep the game close. The Bisons scored a home run, a couple of singles, an error and a wild pitch, effectively killing any Northwestern momentum.
Oklahoma Baptist would go on to win 8-1 in the second game, setting up a very important doubleheader on Saturday.
The Rangers continued the tournament on April 1. The Rangers rode timely hitting and excellent pitching to a 6-1 win in game one, but was unable to handle the Bison in a closely contested 3-2 loss in the second game.
Garza pitched yet another gem in the first game as she held the Oklahoma Baptist batters to just one earned run en-route to her sixth win.
With Madewell hitting a one-out double in the second, the stage was set for senior Sanders to make an impact on the ballgame. Sanders clobbered Haylee Zimmerman offering the other way for her fourth home run of the season, and her second in as many days. The Rangers increased their lead to five in the next inning on four singles from Amber Mills, Madi Parrott, McGraw and Estes with a sac-bunt by Corrales mixed in.
The two-run blast from Sanders proved to be all that Garza would need, as the right hander continued to mow down Bison until the sixth when a single to left by Shelby Savage came around to score the only OBU run. Garza finished the game with 11 strikeouts, giving up only three hits and two walks in the 6-1 victory.
Looking for a victory in the series finale, head Coach penciled in Murray to make her 17th start this season. Murray would get some fast help on the offensive side of the ball when a McGraw two-bagger to right center scored Corrales in the top of the first.
But the Bison got to Murray in the third as she gave up two hits, a walk and hit a batter leading to a two-spot for the home team. After striking out the leadoff hitter, Murray two OBU players. With the bases loaded, OBU’s Miranda Garza smacked one in the left center gap for a two-RBI double that gave the Bison a 2-1 advantage.
Northwestern managed to answer back in the fifth when Corrales drove in her ninth run of the season, cashing in Alexis Hayes to tie the game up at two apiece. OBU catcher cranked a solo shot over the centerfield wall, giving Oklahoma Baptist a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Despite getting a two-out double from Sanders in the top of the seventh the Rangers still lost.