Oakland City University’s seventh appearance in the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series ended with Thursday morning’s 4-2 loss to Emmanuel in the first single-elimination round on the Botetourt (Va.) Sports Complex.
The end came despite freshman right fielder Lexi Newcom’s second home run in two days, after classmate Reagan Hensley reached base on a fourth-inning error. Newcom’s team-leading sixth homer of the season brought a 2-0 top-of-the-fourth lead, but Emmanuel replied with three runs in the fifth and another in the sixth.
So the Lady Oaks, who entered the World Series with an at-large bid and were seeded ninth in the ore-tourney rankings and again after Wednesday losses of 7-1 to Trinity International and 7-3 to Central Baptist in pool play, closed with an 18-16 record.
Emmanuel, of Franklin Springs, Ga., then lost 5-3 to Belhaven and left the tourney with a 25-18 record.
Belhaven, which won the May 8-9 Mideast Regional in Oakland City by beating the Lady Oaks twice in three games, was seeded No. 1 after two Wednesday wins and will take a 24-16 record into Friday's semifinal opener vs. Judson, a 1-0 Thursday winner over Trinity International.
Warner, a 4-3 Thursday winner over Mid-American Christian, will play/Friday’s second semi-final vs. Central Baptist, an 8-0 Thursday winner over Cincinnati Christian, a team with which the Lady Oaks split an April doubleheader. Semi-final winners will play Friday afternoon for the championship.
“Emmanuel had two or three hits the fifth inning. One that was scored a hit could have been called an error,” Lady Oaks Patti Buchta said.
“Our Whitney Jeffers pitched another complete game and pitched well. One of the fifth-inning hits against her came on an 0-2 count as the batter reached and hit a curveball that was outside.”
Emmanuel senior Erin Harden pitched a three-hitter with no walks and five strikeouts. Jeffers finished with an eight-hitter and one strikeout while walking none
“Whitney walked just five batters all year, fewest in the nation,” Buchta said.
“Harden is a good pitcher. We put the bat on the ball but couldn’t hit it between infielders.”
Thursday marked the career final for Jeffers, catcher and Pike Central grad Lauren Morton, and backup outfielder Shay Harrington. Fellow senior Allie Minton, a Wood Memorial grad who played third base in previous seasons, did not play this spring due to an ACL tear.
“Our team accomplished a lot after a 4-and-8 start,” Buchta said. “As I told our players after the game, they have nothing to hang their heads about. They got to the World Series with five freshmen and three sophomores starting along with Whitney and Lauren.
“It took us a while to get experience, especially with so many early-season rainouts. We hit our stride in midseason and went on a 14-5 run including three wins in five regional games.”
While the All-World Series Team won’t be announced until Friday afternoon’s. championship game ends, Newcom is expected to be on it.
Buchtga plans to soon announce seven recruit signings and, “We hope to sign one more.”