Drovers Cruise Past Aggies in Four-Game Series


Laura Barrios Bardi

Jaylee Willis, USAO’s centerfielder, sticks her bat out for a bunt while OPSU’s third basemen prepares to make the play.

Preston Palm, Contributing Writer

USAO softball (31-13, 21-7 SAC), recently ranked #9 in the NAIA poll, was back at Bill Smith Ballpark for a four-game series against Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) (24-21, 16-12 SAC).

OPSU got the scoring started with a single, which led to a run at the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first inning, USAO scored three runs. The first run was off a single from Jaclyn Gray that brought Malea McMurtrey home. The second was courtesy of Jaylee Willis, who hit a single to bring Gray home, and the third was another single from Sierra Selfridge which led to a 3-1 lead after the first inning. USAO’s lead grew in the second inning as the Drovers tacked on two more runs.

USAO picked it back up in the bottom of the fourth inning with two more runs. Slater Eck singled into centerfield, advanced to second base, while Willis scored at home. The Aggies tried to retaliate in the fifth with a two-run homerun; however, USAO emerged with the 9-3 victory in game one.

Sophie Williams pitched the first four innings, where she allowed one run off one hit, walked three, and struck out eight. She threw 53 strikes across 88 pitches. Abi Gregory finished off the last three innings in which she allowed two runs off two hits, walked two, and struck out three. Gregory threw 39 strikes across 59 pitches.

The second game of the series was a struggle for both teams. OPSU scored at the top of the first, but there wouldn’t be any scoring until the sixth for either team. The Aggies extended their lead from one to three at the top of the sixth inning. USAO found their way on to the board in the bottom of the sixth when Gray reached first base off an error and McMurtrey scored. Taygan Graham hit a homerun in the seventh to score USAO’s second run of the game. The Aggies picked up their first and only win of the series with a 3-2 final score.

Lauryn Cottrell pitched the first five innings, in which she allowed two runs off two hits, walked one, and struck out eight. Cottrell threw 72 strikes across 107 pitches. Williams pitched the final two innings, where she allowed one run off one hit and struck out two.

After a poor performance to end Friday’s slate of games, USAO came back with a chip on their shoulders for the final two games of the series.

In game three, OPSU did not sniff the scoreboard. USAO got the scoring started early with three runs scored in the first inning. Gray tripled which led Williams to score the first run of the day. Next, Selfridge doubled to bring Gray home, and then to end the first inning Graham singled to centerfield to score another run.

The hit parade continued in the second inning when Gray picked up two RBIs off a single. USAO’s third inning matched their run total from the first inning with three runs. The third inning had two singles from McMurtrey and Gray, and the Drovers used smart base running to reach home. USAO run ruled OPSU in five innings with a final score of 9-0.

For the third game, Williams threw for three innings. In her time, she allowed zero runs off two hits and struck out four. Gregory threw the final two innings, where she struck out three. Williams threw 33 strikes across 49 pitches, and Gregory threw 19 strikes across 25 pitches.

The fourth game also ended in a run rule, in favor of USAO. Although USAO dominated, the Aggies were the first to score, but that one run didn’t carry mcuh momentum though. The onslaught would start in the second inning with Graham reaching first base off an error, leading Tyler Trott to score.

USAO scored four runs in the third inning. Gray singled to left field and picked up two RBIs. Shortly after, Selfridge hit a two-run bomb to extend USAO’s lead to 5-1. The Drovers kept their rhythm in the fourth inning with another three runs scored, bringing their total to nine runs across five innings. USAO won the last game of the series 9-1.

For the final outing, Williams threw five innings, in which she allowed one run off three hits, walked two, and struck out four. Gregory followed her up for the final inning. In her time, she walked two and struck two out.

The Drovers will be back at Bill Smith Ballpark Friday, April 28th for two games against Langston University starting at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. USAO will also celebrate Senior Day that evening with a ceremony to honor the graduating seniors and thank them for their hard work.


Preston Palm is a second-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.