Special to The Sun
Hayley Hudson gave Central Oklahoma a 5-4 lead with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning and the No. 19-ranked Bronchos staved off a seventh-inning Winona State threat to capture the NCAA Division II Central Super Regional championship Saturday afternoon at Edmond North High School.
The Warriors put two runners on with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in a bid to pull out a late win and force a deciding game in the best-of-three series, but left fielder Devyn Frazier made a running catch in foul territory for the final out to set off a wild celebration on the field.
UCO improved to 47-11 — a school-record for wins — with its 23th consecutive home victory and advanced to the Division II World Series for the second straight year. The Bronchos will face Armstrong Atlantic in the eight-team World Series at 11 a.m. Thursday in Salem, Va.
“I’d say that was a nail-biter,” head coach Genny Stidham said. “It was a good game, both teams played well. Winona has a great team and they didn’t give up, but we came up with some big plays and came out on top.
“I’m just so proud of this team. We’ve been through a lot this year and they just never back down and always find a way.”
UCO built an early 4-0 lead, but the Warriors rallied to tie it through four innings before the Bronchos took the lead for good in the fifth.
Kacie Edwards started a one-out rally with an infield single, Nicole Workman followed with a base hit to center field and Sam Cool reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases for Hudson, who came through with a single to the shortstop, plated Edwards with the go-ahead run.
That turned out to be the winning run as Central Oklahoma escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth on a third out strikeout by Kalynn Schrock, who got out of trouble again in the seventh on Frazier’s catch.
Schrock went the distance for the fifth straight NCAA postseason game, giving up eight hits and four runs (three earned). The junior left-hander struck out 11 — setting a school single-season record in the process — and improved to 30-6.
Workman went 3-for-4 to lead UCO’s 10-hit attack, while Edwards and Hudson had two hits apiece.
The Bronchos, like they did in Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Warriors, broke on top with one run in the second and then added three more in the third.
Workman, whose lead-off home run gave the Bronchos that early lead in the series opener, started the inning with a single to center field. Cool was hit by pitch and Tori Collet singled to load the bases with one out and Workman scored the first run on Frazier’s fielder’s choice grounder.
The Bronchos made it 4-0 in the third on run-scoring singles by Edwards and Workman and Cool’s RBI fielder’s choice.
Winona State came back with two in the bottom of the third and then tied it with two more runs in the fourth.