Special to The Sun
HAYS, Kan. —
Kalynn Schrock dominated in the pitching circle for the third straight day and Central Oklahoma used another fast start to charge past Fort Hays State 7-1 and capture the NCAA Division II Central Regional I Tournament title in Hays, Kan. Sunday.
The No. 19-ranked Bronchos, who erupted for nine first-inning runs in an 11-3 run-rule rout of the No. 15-rated and top-seeded Tigers Saturday, burst out of the gate with four runs in their initial at bat and were never threatened.
Schrock gave up just three hits and one unearned run while walking one and striking out six in improving to 28-6 to tie the school record for wins. The junior left-hander threw all 19 innings for UCO in the tournament, giving up just 10 hits and four runs — one earned — with 20 strikeouts.
The fourth-seeded Bronchos improved to 45-11 and will host Winona State in the best-of-three Central Regional series finals Friday and Saturday at Edmond North High School, with the winner of that moving on the Division II World Series in Salem, Va. The seventh-seeded Warriors won the Central Regional II crown Sunday in Mankato, Minn.
“Right now I’m still kind of crazy and we’re excited we get to go on to the super regional,” head coach Genny Stidham said. “We finally started hitting the ball well and Kalynn pitched an outstanding, outstanding game today.”
Schrock allowed just two base-runners in the first five innings — retiring 12 batters in a row at one point — before Fort Hays State managed its lone run in the sixth and by that time the Bronchos had the game well in hand.
UCO didn’t duplicate Saturday’s nine-run first-inning explosion against the Tigers, but the Bronchos did plenty of damage in jumping out to their quick 4-0 lead.
Ally Dziadula walked to lead off the inning, Kaylee Brunson reached on an error and Nicole Workman was hit by a pitch with one out to load the bases for Cool, who delivered a sharp grounder up the middle to plate two runs.
Hayley Hudson followed with a single to right field that scored Workman and Tori Collet’s blooper to right fell in for a hit that allowed Cool to race home for the 4-0 advantage.
The Bronchos hit into inning-ending double plays in the second and third innings before getting back on the scoreboard in the fourth.
Hannah Justus started things with a lead-off single to right field and stole second before moving to third on Dziadula’s one-out hit to left, with a walk to Brunson filling the bases.
Edwards quickly took care of that as the left-handed senior slugger drove the first pitch she saw to right field for a single that easily scored Justus and Dziadula to push UCO’s lead to 6-0.
Fort Hays cut into the lead in the top of the sixth, scoring one run on two hits and two errors. Brunson saved another run with a sensational play in center field, throwing a bullet to the Collet at the plate for the first out of the inning.
The Bronchos got that back in their half of the inning when Dziadula reached on a one-out walk, went to second on Brunson’s bunt single and scored on back-to-back wild pitches.
Edwards and Hudson each had two hits to lead UCO’s nine-hit attack, while Dziadula scored three runs.
BRONCHOS HOST CENTRAL
Central Oklahoma will continue its quest for the NCAA Division II softball national championship this weekend when the Bronchos host Winona State for the Central Super Regional.
The best-of-three series opens at 7 p.m. Friday at Edmond North High School and concludes Saturday at 2 p.m., with the if-necessary game slated for 4:30 p.m. The winner advances to the Division II World Series, set for May 23-27 in Salem, Va.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children (3-college age) and senior citizens (62+). UCO students will be admitted free with a valid ID.
UCO is 45-11 on the year and won the Central Regional I crown Sunday in Hays, Kan. with a 7-1 finals victory over host Fort Hays State. The Warriors (37-12) captured the Central Regional II title with a 4-3 extra-inning triumph over host Minnesota State-Mankato.
“We’re really excited that we get to stay home for the super regional and are looking forward to the weekend,” Stidham said. “Winona obviously has an outstanding team and our players realize they’re going to have to be at their best if we want to continue playing.”
The Bronchos are seeking their second straight Division II World Series berth, finishing third last year.