OKLAHOMA CITY —Turnabout proved to be more than fair play for the sixth ranked Northeastern A&M Lady Norse against the Connors State Cowgirls in Sunday night’s loser’s bracket finals of the Women’s Division I Region II Tournament at the ASA Hall of Fame Softball Complex.
After Connors sent coach Eric Iverson’s Lady Norse to the loser’s bracket with a 2-1 victory in Friday’s opening round, NEO eliminated the Cowgirls by the same 2-1 margin in eight innings Sunday night.
The two-time defending region champion Lady Norse carry a 53-5 season record into today’s 2 p.m. championship game with 13th ranked Seminole State College. If the Lady Norse win, a second title game will be played at 6 p.m.
Winner of the Region II Tournament advances to the National Junior College Athletic Association Women’s Division I National Tournament, May 14-16, in St. George, Utah.
Seminole’s Belles advanced to the championship game with a 3-1 victory over Connors in the winner’s bracket finals Sunday afternoon. The Belles are 48-10 on the season and split the four-game regular season series with the Lady Norse.
“We’re doing exactly what we’ve needed to do,” Iverson said. “We knew coming into the tournament that if we played hard, we would have to win four games in a row.
“But we stumbled in the second game against Connors on Friday, so we’re staying in our small segments,” Iverson said. “Because of the rain-out on Saturday, we played a three-game segment today and we won all three because we’re focused.
“We’ve got one more segment left against Seminole and we’ll take it one pitch, one out, one half inning and one game at at time,” Iverson said. “Our last segment will be like playing a double-header on the road.”
With the score tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning against Connors, the Lady Norse took advantage of a couple of bizarre plays to earn the 2-1 win.
The inning started with an unintentional, intentional walk to Maddelyn Fraley. Lauren Iverson bunted the ball in front of the plate and as Connors first baseman Lacie McCoy fielded the bunt and turned to throw to Alex Orf covering first, her cleats stuck in the ground and she twisted her knee and count not make the throw.
After a sacrifice bunt by Cara Dearmore moved runners to second and third with one out. Kayla Odle walked on four pitches to fill the bases. Kaci Ryal struck out on four pitches to create two outs.
Ashley Tellez hit a sharp ground ball to Connors third baseman Kylie Melton. The throw by Melton skipped by first base as Fraley scored the winning run.
Former Miami Wardog Kyrie Panter lined a 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence for her fifth home run of the season with one out in the bottom of the third inning to give the Lady Norse a 1-0 lead.
Two NEO errors led to an unearned run by the Cowgirls in the top of the fifth inning to tie the score off NEO starter Maria Buckingham. McCoy hit a high fly ball to left that was misplayed into a two-base error by NEO’s Ashley Tellez.
After an infield fly by Keely Corbell and a sacrifice fly to left by Sarah Harvey moved McCoy to third, Brooke Barnett reached on a fielding error by Kyrie Panter as McCoy scored.
Iverson and Panter collected two hits each to pace the eight-hit Lady Norse offense.
Buckingham scattered five hits while improving her record to 11-1 on the season.
NEO defeated Sam Swanda (23-13) who had limited them to two hits on Friday.
“We threw Buckingham in relief in the Northern-Tonkawa game and we knew that we had to get some innings out of her,” Iverson said. “Connors had beaten Kalleigh (Chrz) twice and they hadn’t seen Buck. She threw great.”
NEO advanced to the loser’s bracket title game by defeating Northern-Tonkawa 4-2 in a Sunday afternoon game.
The Lady Mavericks (15-16) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning off NEO lefty Taylor Rolland.
Angelina Vines singled to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Shanei Brown, Kelsea Schultz drove a 2-2 pitch over the left-field fence for her seventh home run of the year.
The Lady Norse responded with three runs in the bottom of the four inning. Fraley led off with her 16th homer of the season. Singles by Iverson and Odle along with a two-run double by Panter and a fielder’s choice by Iverson gave NEO a run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Two singles by Ashley Tellez along with Fraley’s homer and doubles by Panter and Ryal led the eight-hit NEO offense.
Rolland limited the Lady Mavericks to two runs on five hits to earn the win and increase her record to 19-2 on the year.
Two three-run innings carried the Lady Norse to an 8-1 victory over Rose State College (18-38) in Sunday’s first game.
Sophomore catcher Cara Dearmore had a career game with two solo home runs and a two-run homer in four at-bats. Dearmore’s first solo blast gave NEO a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
Singles by Iverson and Ryal along with a two-run double by Tellez increased the Lady Norse lead to 4-0 in the top of the fourth inning.
Kiarra Bonner singled, went to second on a sacrifice by Panter, stole third and scored on a wild pitch to start the top of the fifth inning. Iverson walked before Dearmore hit her eighth home run of the season which created a 7-0 NEO margin.
Rose State scored in the bottom of the sixth inning on a single by Kaitlin Johnson and a RBI double by Jessica McClure.
With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Dearmore hit a solo homer to end the scoring.
Chrz limited the Lady Raiders to one run on four hits while increasing her record to 23-2 on the year. She struck out six and walked two.
Monty Franks, 542-5533, ext. 3054