GULF SHORES, Ala. — Whereas the Oregon Tech Owls softball team fell behind 2-0 in Thursday’s pool play opener, OIT scored the first three runs of the game in the bottom of the first and held on to win 3-2 over St. Gregory’s (Okla.) and move to 2-0 in Pool G.
The win puts Oregon Tech in a position to “win and get in” against Shorter (Ga.) on Saturday (Noon – 960 the Sports Legend). A victory will advance the Owls to the eight-team double-elimination NAIA Softball National Championship bracket starting Monday.
It was really more a pitcher’s duel despite a moderately good scoring game. Taylor Schmidt won her 27th game of the season, having already become Oregon Tech’s all-time single-season wins leader on Thursday. Devon Fraizer of St. Gregory’s persevered after OIT scored three runs in the opening inning on three hits and one error.
Fraizer went the next six innings allowing just two hits and was not charged with an earned run in the game. The first inning error allowed Ashleigh Larson to reach base plus advance Shauna Collins to third after Collins hit a lead off double.
Eventually both were hit in by Schmidt and later Sara Coates brought home Danielle Sayres who was pinch running for Schmidt.
The Owls didn’t allow a run until the sixth inning despite being outhit 6-5 in the game. Allison Conyers came into pinch hit for St. Gregory’s, getting a single and later scoring when HayLea Harper hit into a fielder’s choice.
In the top of the seventh, trailing 3-1, St. Gregory’s saw Christen Gutierrez smack a lead off triple, her first extra base hit of the season in over 19 at bats. The early momentum didn’t produce as much as St. Gregory’s may have hoped because the next two batters were put down, keeping Gutierrez at third. After Caitlin O’Hagan singled to score the run, Kristen Wehmeyer grounded out and Oregon Tech won.
A tough moment in the bottom of the fourth for junior Elise Goodell, playing with a torn ACL. Hitting a slow roller to second base, Goodell tried to beat the throw to first. Goodell said she felt a buckle as her leg touched the base and she fell to her back. She was carried off the field by trainer Kelly Caleb and Larson and is on crutches at the team hotel.
The Owls (41-7) now play Shorter on Saturday at Noon Pacific Time. With a win, Oregon Tech will be back into the “elite eight” for the second time in school history. St. Gregory’s (43-16) cannot move out of pool play, finishing against Madonna (Mich.) on Saturday morning.