Norman, OK – The Central Arkansas softball team took the field for its first-ever NCAA Division I Softball Championship game on Friday afternoon, facing off against Norman Regional Host Oklahoma. The Bears fell into a hole early and were unable to climb out of it, falling to the eleventh-seeded Sooners 8-0 in five innings.
After Central Arkansas went down in order in the top of the first, Oklahoma struck for six unearned runs in the bottom of the first. The Sooners got a bases-loaded walk from second baseman Georgia Casey, a grand slam from designated player Lea Wodach, and an RBI single from center fielder Nicole Pendley to take a 6-0 lead.
OU tacked on a run in the bottom of the second to push their lead to (7-0). Shortstop Shelby Pendley opened the inning with a double to right-center before coming in to score on a single to left-center from pitcher Paige Parker.
The Bears got their first base runner of the day in the third inning, when first baseman Ashley Boswell worked a walk, but OU right fielder Erin Miller would make a diving catch in the right-center gap on third baseman Sam Forrests’ sinking line drive to end the inning.
UCA reliever Kayla Gomness would keep the Sooners off the board in the third and fourth inning, and in the top of the fifth, the Central Arkansas offense began to show signs of life. Though the Bears were unable to plate a run, they got a 12 pitch at-bat from left fielder Hannah Stirton, another extended at-bat from designated player Audrey Pratt, and a walk from shortstop Hayley Parker.
The Sooners would snuff out any potential late inning rally though, scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth to defeat the Bears 8-0.
The Bears were held hitless on the day, as Boswell and Parker were the only Central Arkansas players to reach base, drawing a walk apiece.
Kylee Studioso (26-13) got the start for the Bears, lasting two-thirds of an inning and allowing six unearned runs. She issued two walks and struck out one. Kayla Gomness worked 3.1 innings of relief, allowing one run on eight hits and a walk while striking out one. Shivaun Landeros came on for the fifth inning, lasting two-thirds of an inning and allowing one run on two hits.
Central Arkansas will return to action tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 PM. The Bears will face Lehigh, who won the Patriot League the year and fell to Texas A&M 2-1 in the first round.