Junior right-handers Randee Crockett and Wanda Malone had back-to-back pitching gems as the East Central University Lady Tigers homered three times on the day and rolled to a 6-1 victory over 11th-ranked West Texas A&M and edged Central Oklahoma 5-4 Thursday in the Lone Star Conference Softball Championships at the Durant Multi-Sports Complex.
Crockett (15-3) scattered six hits, walked only two and struck out eight as the lone West Texas run was unearned in the tournament opener. Malone (14-11) then allowed six hits, walked two and fanned four against the Bronchos.
“In the latter part of the conference season, Randee has really come through for us. Randee really handled West Texas, which had 55 homers on the year. To handle a team with that much power is impressive,” said ECU head coach Destini Anderson. “Wanda is doing a good job of mixing it up and moving the ball around.”
ECU, 33-19 and the fourth seed out of the LSC North, advances in the winners’ bracket to face Angelo State, the No. 2 seed from the South, at 3 p.m. on Friday. If the Lady Tigers win that 3 o’clock contest, they move on to the championship game at noon on Saturday. If ECU loses Friday’s 3 p.m. game, it turns around and plays again at 5:30 p.m. on Friday for another chance to reach the finals of the double-elimination tournament.
Angelo State edged third-ranked Midwestern State 1-0 in eight innings in another winners’ bracket clash.
“I was pleased with our overall defense. We only had one error today and we’ve got to have solid defensive games to survive in tournaments like this,” Anderson said. “Our hitting is peaking at the right time. We did a good job of hitting with runners on base.”
ECU 5, Central Oklahoma 4 (Winners’ Bracket)
The sister combination of Cassandra Nordie and Desiree’ Nordie each homered while Nicole Sanchez and Emily Kennemer knocked in a run apiece as the Lady Tigers finished with six hits in the contest.
Cassandra hit a one-out, solo-homer in the second inning to make it 1-0 and Desiree’ launched a two-out, two-run blast in the third to make it 4-0.
The Lady Tigers took a 3-0 lead earlier in the inning when Nicole Sanchez executed an unusual but nifty RBI bunt-single past the mound and toward second base as Brandi Goodrich, who doubled earlier in the inning, amazingly raced home from second while Sanchez ended up on second on the throw.
UCO, the No. 2 seed from the North, pulled within 4-2 in the fourth inning off a solo-homer by Kelcie Tiger and a run-scoring single from Megan Bentley.
But ECU upped the count to 5-2 the fifth inning when Simmons looped a shallow double down the left field line and later scored off Kennemer’s RBI double to left-center.
The Lady Tigers survived a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh by Rachel Lowery to pull UCO within 5-4. Malone then got Edwards to ground out on a comebacker to end the game.
ECU 6, West Texas 1 (First Round)
Simmons went 3-for-3 and scored three runs and Desiree’ Nordie was 2-for-3 and drove home two as the Lady Tigers stunned No. 15 West Texas A&M in the opening round.
ECU also received a mammoth solo-homer by Courtney Gaines to lead off the sixth as that sparked a three-run frame.
Kennemer had a key-run scoring single in the sixth.
The Lady Tigers finished with nine hits off the Buffs’ Marci Womack (17-8).
ECU jumped to an early 1-0 advantage when Simmons hit a one-out infield single, stole second and scored off Desiree’ Nordie’s single.
West Texas tied it with an unearned score in the third.
An unearned tally by the Lady Tigers made it 2-1 in the third as Sanchez scored off a two-out error by the shortstop.
ECU upped the lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Simmons was hit by a pitch and later crossed the plate off Kennemer’s single down the left field line.
Gaines’ blast off the first pitch of the sixth made it 4-1. Kennemer’s run-scoring single brought home Sanchez to make it 5-1 and an error on the same play enabled Simmons to score the sixth and final run.
Crockett limited the Buffs’ Kim LeComte to an 0-for-4 performance after LeComte was named National Fastpitch Coaches Association National Player of the Week on Wednesday. LeComte hit .909 (10-for-11) with three homers, four doubles and 12 RBIs in a three-game series with Abilene Christian last week as she was also named LSC South Hitter of the Week.