Chris Brannick, Director of Sports Media Relations
MANKATO, Minn. – The University of Central Oklahoma softball team’s season ended abruptly Friday after a 4-0 loss to Augustana (S.D.) in the consolation final of the NCAA Central Regional.
The Bronchos finished the 2017 season 48-11, the second-most wins in school history.
“That’s a tough loss,” UCO head coach Cody White said. “We had a goal to win the national championship and we came up short today. But this season is something to be proud of. These girls put it all on the line, they worked hard from day one, they bought in, and came together. This is a tough day for us right now.”
Similar to the Bronchos first loss in the regional Friday morning, Central struggled to find the offense in the afternoon game. UCO had four hits against Augustana and couldn’t manufacture any runs. In the two games Friday, Central had just seven hits and was shut out of both games.
To UCO’s credit, the pitching was there Friday – and the whole tournament. UCO played 19 innings over three games at the Central Regional, and put zeroes on the scoreboard in 17 of those innings. Unfortunately, the two innings the Bronchos let an opponent score, were one inning in each game of Central’s two losses.
Friday against Augustana, Peyton Walker got the start and began the game with flashes of dominance. The 22-game winner forced Augustana into ground out after ground out. But in the top of the fourth, Augustana led off with three consecutive singles, the third scoring the game’s first run.
Augustana kept it up, knocking two more singles and increasing its lead to 2-0. Then a two-RBI double made it 4-0.
Central never recovered.
Morgan Heard had the game’s first two hits, a single in the first and a double in the third. Brooke Zukerman and JoBi Heath each added singles too, but that was all of the offense for the Bronchos on Friday.
And so a historic season in many rights for Central Oklahoma ends. A sixth consecutive trip to the postseason, second-most wins in school history. Senior catcher Tori Collet summed it up following her 219th game in a Broncho uniform.
“This program is going up from here,” Collet said. “It’s just been really fun. We won a lot. It’s just been a fun ride.”
At Mankato, Minn.
G1: Minnesota State 8, Augustana (S.D.), 4
G2: Central Oklahoma 9, Pittsburg State 0
G3: Minnesota State 3, Central Oklahoma 0
G4: Augustana 6, Pittsburg State 1
G5: Augustana 4, Central Oklahoma 0
G6: Minnesota State vs. Augustana, 11 a.m.
x-G7: Minnesota State vs. Augustana, 1:30 p.m.
(x-Game 7 only necessary if Augustana wins Game 6)