EDMOND – Early-game offensive success enabled Central Oklahoma to make a winning debut in its new stadium Wednesday afternoon.
The No. 9-ranked Bronchos scored 12 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Texas A&M International, with all of those coming in the first inning. UCO rolled to an 8-0 run-rule romp in the opener behind eight first-inning runs and held on for a 4-2 win in the nightcap after scoring four times in its initial at bat.
Jayden Chestnut struck out 11 batters in just 4 2/3 innings to earn a win and a save, while JoBi Heath drove in five runs on the afternoon. The Bronchos improved to 13-3 on the season in stretching their winning streak to seven.
“I was worried coming into the day because of all the outside distractions we had with the stadium, but I thought we did a pretty good job with all that,” head coach Cody White said. “We jumped out to good leads in both games and probably relaxed a little after that, which we can’t afford to do.
“It was a good day. Our team was excited about getting to play on our new field. It’s a beautiful facility and we’re really happy to finally be in it.”
UCO came out firing in the new stadium, which had several last-minute details still being worked on minutes before game time. The Bronchos collected seven hits and eight runs in its first offensive try to seize quick control in the opener.
Morgan Heard opened that first-inning explosion with a lead-off single to left field and stole second before Carrie Abrams went all the way to second on a bunt base hit that moved Heard to third. Heath then plated both runners with a single up the middle to put UCO in front for good.
Back-to-back hits by Tori Collet and Lexi Watson loaded the bases for Brooke Zukerman, who drove in one run with a single to right field, and Carli Jones drew a walk to make it 4-0. Ashleigh Tramel and Heard sandwiched sacrifice flies around Mo Selman’s two-run double down the left field line to complete the scoring.
The Bronchos didn’t get another hit in the game, but it didn’t matter.
Chestnut overwhelmed the Dustdevils in a four-inning starting stint to earn the win, fanning nine and walking two while scattering four hits. Jessi Walker came on to pitch the fifth and complete the shutout, needing just four pitches to end the game.
UCO followed the same script in the nightcap with another first-inning onslaught, though the outcome ended up being in doubt until the end.
Heard again started things with a lead-off single and Abrams reached on a walk before Heath belted the first home run in the new park. The sophomore slugger bombed a two-strike pitch that soared over the fence in left-center field and bounced off the scoreboard for her fourth homer of the season.
Collet didn’t waste time in becoming the second player to go deep, blasting a massive solo shot to left field seconds after Heath finished rounding the bases to give UCO a 4-0 lead.
It stayed that way until TAMIU scored its only two runs of the day in the sixth, with Abbie Lancaster coming on to get the Bronchos out of a jam in that inning with a fly out and strikeout.
The Dustdevils threatened again in the seventh, putting two runners on with one out before Chestnut came back in. The hard-throwing sophomore right-hander needed eight pitches to strike out two straight batters and end the game, earning her first save.
Peyton Walker picked up the pitching win after going the first 5 1/3 innings. Heard and Jones had two hits apiece to pace the offense.
UCO goes on the road to St. Joseph, Mo. this in the Apple Market Softball Classic, playing two games Friday, Saturday and Sunday against Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rivals.