KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — On a perfect day for softball in the Basin, the sixth-ranked Oregon Tech Owls came away with a perfect Friday record, sweeping the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers in the first two games of their four-game series.
Game one was a bit of a pitcher's duel between OIT's Sarah Abramson and EOU's Amanda Smith. The latter gave up a run in the bottom of the fourth on a Jensen Becker chopper up the middle, scoring Krista Ward from third. Abramson had only given up one hit heading into the top of the sixth when Madison Stateler uncorked over the left-field fence to tie the game up at 1 apiece.
With both pitchers still dealing, extra innings were needed. Abramson retired the Mountaineers in order in the top half of the eighth then let her offense go to work.
Senior Olivia Lethlean, playing in her final regular-season home series, reached first on a fielding error by Smith then advanced to second on a sacrifice grounder from freshman Kaila Mick. Lethlean made her way to third on a ground ball to Smith in the circle, bringing up another freshman, Krista Ward.
Ward already had a double to her name earlier in the contest and now was up in a big spot looking to deliver for her team. On a 3-1 count, Ward roped one into right field, Lethlean came around to score and Ward's teammates mobbed her at first base, win number one in the books.
Game two was another stellar pitching performance on the Oregon Tech end. Freshman Mckenzie Staub was dealing all day long. She got offensive support early, with Aubrie Businger knocking an RBI single into left-center to score McKenna Armantrout.
The Owls piled it on in the bottom of the second. After Kennedy Jantzi drew a walk, Maddie Deverna pinched ran for her. Deverna stole second and then Jensen Becker poked one between the third baseman and shortstop into left field and the speedy sophomore out of Newberg, Oregon beat the throw to the plate to make it a 2-0 ballgame.
It got ugly for Eastern Oregon after that. A walk and a single loaded the bases before the following sequence happened, leading to three more OIT runs: hit by a pitch, walked, pitching change, hit by a pitch.
It was all the Owls would need and more as, like with Abramson in game one, the only run the Mountaineers could muster came via the solo home run. Haley Ebner hit it leading off the seventh inning, followed by an Olivia Zufelt single, but Staub was unphased, retiring the next three batters, including ending the game on two strikeouts.
With the two wins, Oregon Tech was hoping for a Warner Pacific win over College of Idaho to leapfrog the Yotes into second place in the Cascade Collegiate Conference standings. The Yotes, however, took down the Knights, 10-2 and 10-3 today, holding on to their one-game lead over OIT. There's just one more conference game left in the regular season, so the Owls need to win their first game tomorrow and hope Warner Pacific can get one against COI.
First pitch on Saturday for Oregon Tech is slated for 11 am at John & Lois Stilwell Stadium.