Central Oklahoma sparked by 16 hits to reach title game defeating AASU 14-1
SALEM, Va. -– Kaylee Brunson continued her post-season hitting tear to spark an offensive explosion that has Central Oklahoma one win away from its first national championship.
Brunson went 4-for-4 at the plate to lead a 16-hit attack while scoring four runs and driving in two more as the No. 19-ranked Bronchos walloped No. 4 Armstrong Atlantic 14-1 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Championship Finals at the Moyer Sports Complex.
UCO reached the 50-win plateau for the first time in school history, improving to 50-11 overall and 8-0 in NCAA tournament play.
“We were really seeing it well and just put the ball in play,” Brunson said, who is 8-for-11 with six runs and five RBI in the championship finals. “It doesn't even seem real to be in the finals, but we're excited and want to keep it going.”
The Bronchos broke away from a 1-1 tie with four second-inning runs, stretched their lead to 8-1 in the fourth and piled on six more runs in the fifth en route to ending the game early on the eight-run rule. The 14-1 rout ranks as the biggest margin of victory in championship finals history.
Nicole Workman went 3-for-4 with three RBI, Hayley Hudson was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Devyn Frazier added two hits for UCO, which had its second-highest hit and third-best run totals of the season.
“We've seen this offense off-and-on all year,” head coach Genny Stidham said. “The last few days in batting practice we've been swinging the bats very, very well and we were ready to go [Sunday].”
UCO also benefitted from another stellar pitching performance by Kalynn Schrock, who stayed undefeated in postseason play with her eighth consecutive complete-game outing. The junior left-hander gave up three hits and one walk while striking out six in moving to 32-6 on the year.
UCO grabbed a 1-0 lead in its initial at bat and Brunson got things started with a one-out bunt single. The speedy sophomore moved to second on a walk to Kacie Edwards, took third on Workman's single to left and trotted home on Sam Cool's sacrifice fly.
The Pirates tied it in the bottom of the first on a lead-off homer by Shelby Duff, who also homered in AAU's 5-2 first-round loss to the Bronchos, but it was all UCO after that.
Frazier singled, Hannah Justus reached on an error and both runners advanced on another miscue before scoring on Brunson's hard bouncer up the middle to start the second inning. Edwards followed that with a big exclamation point, bombing a long fly over the 220-foot sign in center field to make it 5-1.
The Bronchos had a runner thrown out at home to end the third inning, but padded their lead with three more in the fourth.
Ally Dziadula was hit by pitch to lead off the inning, Brunson had her third consecutive infield single and both moved on Edwards' groundout before scoring on Workman's bloop single to short right field. Workman was thrown out at third on Cool's single, but Hudson followed with another base hit to score Cool and bump the lead to 8-1.
UCO finished off the Pirates with a six-run fifth-inning eruption, using five hits and two big errors to build the cushion to 14-1. Workman and Hudson had run-scoring singles and Cool a second sacrifice fly in that frame, with three other runs coming across on errors.
Schrock hit the first batter of the fifth and gave up a two-out single before closing out the rout as the Bronchos moved into the championship game.