MIAMI — Defending champion Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College is battling both opponents and the weather as the battle for the lead in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference lead heads into the final week of the regular season.
Weekend weather forced postponement of a crucial conference double-header for the Lady Norse.
Originally set to host the Northern Oklahoma College-Enid Lady Jets on Saturday, April 21, weather forced Lady Norse head coach Eric Iverson into a situation of trying to complete the OCAC schedule by Sunday, April 29.
“At first, we switched the date to Monday, April 23, but we weren’t sure as of Sunday whether the field would be ready to go,” Iverson said. “But we need to try and play before the regular season ends because of the importance to the seeding of the regional tournament.”
Unlike previous years where the Women’s Division I Region II Tournament was played at a neutral site, the last four years in Coweta, the post-season tournament will alternate each year to member schools’ home fields.
Rose State College of Midwest City will host this season’s double-elimination tournament, which runs Thursday, May 4 to Saturday, May 6.
With a split of a twinbill on Thursday, April 19, the Lady Norse (32-10) start the final week with a 20-4 conference record.
“I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position to make a run at this thing,” Iverson said. “All these games this week are big for everybody and there are some really cool matchups in the region.”
NEO 3, CASC 2
Scoring two runs in the second inning and one in the fifth, the Lady Norse fought back a rally by the Carl Albert State College Lady Vikings (13-13 and 26-17), Thursday, April 17 in Poteau.
“We’re progressing after starting the season as a very young softball team,” Iverson said. “I really feel like we’re putting the pieces together as we come down the stretch.
“Maybe we don’t get the results we want sometimes, but we’re starting to swing the bats better,” Iverson said. “Our overall effort has been great, our pitching is coming together and our defense has solidified.”
The Lady Norse received RBIs from Bailey Fowler, Mikaela Workman and Taylor Makowsky, scoring three runs on eight hits.
Center fielder Marci Willingham produced three of NEO hits while Makowsky added two, Fowler one, Workman one and Makayla Bowman one.
Carl Albert scored single unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings.
Nikki Harrison and Katie McCullar each had two of the nine Lady Viking hits.
Makowsky (16-4) scattered nine hits in a seven-inning complete game effort. She struck out 11 batters and walked two.
McCullar (13-10) allowed three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
CASC 3, NEO 2
Snapping a seven-game winning streak by the Lady Norse, Carl Albertrallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
NEO’s only runs came in the top of the fourth inning.
Fowler singled and came around to score on an RBI double to right-center by Bowman.
Designated player Karissa Marshall doubled, scoring designated runner Kerri Alexander.
After Carl Albert scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Vikings received RBI hits from Lindsey Eveld and Makenzie Flewellen in the bottom of the seventh to complete the comeback.
Willingham and Marshall each had two of the nine hits by the Lady Norse. Olivia Prather, Kristin Strong, Fowler, Bowman and Workman contributed one hit each.
Flewellen collected three of the Lady Vikings’ 11 hits. McCullar and Eveld added two hits each.
Prather (15-6) surrendered three runs on 11 hits in 6.2 innings of work. She struck out two and walked one.
Eveld (12-6) scattered nine hits in seven innings with four strikeouts and one walk.
The Lady Norse host double-headers against Connors State, Tuesday, April 24 and Seminole State, Thursday, April26. NEO travels to Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa on Saturday, April 28.