Win streaks rule postseason
Many teams carry unbeaten streaks into championship
SALEM, Va. -- When postseason arrives for NCAA softball, the majority of the teams reaching the championship tournament are enjoying lengthy winning streaks.
The 2013 NCAA Division II Softball Championship was no different, with four of the final eight enjoying winning streaks of at lead eight games.
Central Oklahoma’s run was just five games when the tournament got under way at the James I. Moyer complex on Thursday. But it was a very impressive five-game winning streak – and as the weekend drew on, the Bronchos proved that no club in DII was better at season’s end.
Central Oklahoma wrapped up its first softball championship by beating Kutztown 5-2 in a nine-inning thriller that kept those in attendance on the edge of their seats until the final out, which came on an almost anti-climactic called third strike, brought the 2013 season to an end.
Kutztown (37-22), which had won 14 games in a row to reach the title game, kept the score of Monday’s final close – and even had a chance to win it when it had runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But if the Golden Bears had managed to win the national championship it would have come despite another dominating performance by the Bronchos.
Offensively, Central Oklahoma piled up 48 hits in its four games – half of those came from the top three batters in the lineup – Ally Dziadula, Kaylee Brunson and Kacie Edwards.
“Stringing our hits together couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Edwards, who hit three home runs and knocked in 10 runs. “We all trust each other, especially at the top of the lineup. If you get on base, I’m going to try to hit you in – someone’s going to try to hit you in. Just make something happen.”
Edwards said the teammates ahead of her in the order were doing so well at getting on base, she found it hard to remember at-bats when the bases were empty.
“That’s great,” Edwards said. “You don’t want to look back and think ‘man, I was the only person out there.’ It was great for it to be a team effort like it was.”
Meanwhile, pitcher Kalynn Schrock, a transfer from Tulsa in her first season with the Bronchos, continued to pile up the stats on what was already year full of broken team records. For the second time in four games, Schrock had double-digit strikeout numbers – she fanned 14 Kutztown batters – and gave up no more than five hits during the championship tournament.
While Schrock was the only pitcher to throw for Central Oklahoma in the postseason, she got away with it because of her efficiency. The most pitches she threw before Monday’s championship game were 99 in a 7-1 win against Molloy in the second round. She finished with 133 pitches in the title game.
Schrock did give up a game-tying RBI double with two outs in the seventh inning, but she said it was important for her to shake that off, get the final out of the inning and get her team to the eighth inning.
“I was pretty upset [after they tied the score,] but my teammate came out there and told me that they had my back.” Schrock said. “I believed my team was going to come back and get me some runs. So I just had to keep my head in the game.
“After we scored again, I knew we had it because I wasn’t going to let them down again.”
And when next season begins, Central Oklahoma is the only team out of the eight who came to Salem that will be carrying over a winning streak from 2013 – one that could go on for a while, too. Of the nine starters for the Bronchos, only Edwards is a senior.