Special to The Sun
SALEM, Va. —
Kaylee Brunson and Kacie Edwards keyed an 11-hit attack that carried Central Oklahoma to a 7-1 romp over Molloy in the second round of the NCAA Division II Championship Finals in Salem, VA. Friday afternoon at the Moyer Sports Complex.
Brunson and Edwards had three hits apiece and both drove in runs during a big five-run, sixth-inning outburst that turned a precarious 2-0 lead into a comfortable 7-0 cushion as UCO coasted into Sunday’s winner’s bracket finals.
Kalynn Schrock did her part in the circle once again, tossing a complete-game five-hitter while giving up one unearned run in a 99-pitch outing to pick up her seventh straight postseason win.
The Bronchos improved to 49-11 and will face an opponent to be determined at 11 a.m. Sunday. A win in that game — or in the “if-necessary” contest that would follow — will put Central Oklahoma in Monday’s 11 a.m. national championship game.
“It’s great to win and move on,” head coach Genny Stidham said. “I thought we started out a little flat, but we did the things we needed to do and it will be good to have the day off tomorrow.”
Edwards staked UCO to a quick lead in the top of the first inning with a two-out solo home run. The Bronchos added another run in the third and then broke the game open in the sixth.
Schrock struck out five and walked two in her 30th complete game of the season. She improved to 32-6, giving her the most wins in Division II this season.
“It’s a lot easier to pitch when Kacie goes out and does what she does,” Schrock said. “She produces the offense and I just try to do my job.”
Edwards did just that in the Bronchos’ first at bat of the game, driving a 2-2 pitch over the wall down the right-field line for her 20th homer of the season to quickly make it 1-0.
It stayed that way until the third when the speedy Brunson reached on a bunt single, went to third on Edwards’ double and scored on Nicole Workman’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 advantage.
The Bronchos then broke the game open in the sixth, getting five hits and benefitting from four illegal pitch calls to take total control.
Hayley Hudson started things with a single up the middle and Tori Collet followed with a bunt single before both advanced on an illegal pitch. Devyn Frazier’s infield hit loaded the bases and Hudson scored the first run on another illegal pitch.
Pinch-hitter Brooke Zukerman walked to again load the bases, Ally Dziadula followed with a bloop single to short center field to plate Collet and Brunson’s groundout scored Frazier to make it 5-0.
Another illegal offering from Molloy’s pitcher allowed Zukerman to cross home plate and Edwards capped the big inning with a single up the middle that scored Dziadula to bump the lead to 7-zip.
Two walks, an error and a hit batter allowed the Lions to score their lone run in the bottom of the sixth, but Schrock easily closed out the game in the seventh to move the Bronchos closer to their first-ever national championship.