Mike Kirk, Part-Time Assistant for Media Relations
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lauren Gibson allowed a first-pitch home run and then gave up just one hit the rest of the way to spark hard-charging Central Oklahoma to a 9-1 clubbing of Lindenwood Friday night in a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Postseason Tournament elimination game at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex.
The Bronchos entered the day needed three wins to advance to Saturday’s finals and did just that. UCO toppled Missouri Western 3-1 to start the day and then blanked Northwest Missouri 4-0 before rolling over the Lions to avenge a Friday night loss.
UCO still has to win two more games to take the tournament title and earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Bronchos face Emporia State at 11 a.m., with the “if necessary” game set for 1:30 p.m.
“What a day this team had,” head coach Cody White said. “We came in with our backs to the wall and just kept fighting. We swung the bats well and made some things happen offensively.
“And what else can you say about our pitching? Peyton (Walker), Jayden (Chestnut) and Lauren were all awesome today. There’s still a lot of work to do tomorrow, but we’ve got a chance and I know this team will keep battling.”
Gibson was greeted by a first-pitch home run in the top of the first as Lindenwood took a quick lead, but the redshirt freshman responded. She retired the next 12 batters until walking the lead-off batter in the fifth and allowed just one more hit in picking up the complete-game victory, improving to 10-5.
There was plenty of offensive support as the Bronchos pounded out 12 hits.
JoBi Heath went 3-for-3 to lead the way, while Mo Selman, Lexy Dobson, Halley Randolph and Carli Jones had two hits apiece. Selman drove in three runs, with Heath and Dobson getting two RBI each.
UCO took the lead in the second when Heath led off with a double to right-center and Selman followed with a home run – her fifth of the year – that stayed just inside the left field foul pole.
Morgan Heard led off the third with a triple to right field and scored on Heath’s nation-leading ninth sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 and the Bronchos broke it open with five runs in the fifth.
Dobson had the big blow with a two-run single, while Selman added a run-scoring double and Randolph an RBI double. Randolph scored the final run in that inning when she romped home from second base on the play when the throw from Lindenwood’s left fielder bounced through the infield.
Central ended the game on the eight-run rule in the sixth. Carrie Abrams reached second on an error to start the inning and went to third on Heard’s fly out before scoring on Heath’s single to center field.