Clarksville, Ark.- The Lady Eagles opened American Southwest Conference play with a split against Texas-Dallas on Wednesday afternoon at Hurie Field.
Ozarks (6-2, 1-1) made a valiant comeback in game one scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but took a 9-8 loss. The Lady Eagles rebounded in game two behind a six-run fifth inning to earn a 11-5 victory.
Game one saw Ozarks score first when Jessica Pianalto singled in Cassie Saorrono in the bottom of the third. The Comets (5-5, 1-1), however, put up back-to-back three-run innings to hold a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the fifth. The Lady Eagles answered with three runs of their own on three hits to cut it to 6-5. After a scoreless sixth, Texas-Dallas put three more runs on the board to make it 9-5 heading into the bottom half of the seventh. Ozarks stormed back behind six hits. Kaitlyn Poirier and Chelsea Joslin had back-to-back singles to start the rally. With one out, Danielle Dirks sent a shot over the fence to cut the deficit to 9-8. It was her first home run of the season. With Saorrono on first and Nicole Ashley on second, Pianalto singled to left field, giving the Lady Eagles an opportunity to tie the game. However, leftfielder Tawni Ichimura threw a perfect ball to home plate to get Ashley out.
Stephany Henson (2-2) took the loss. She went six innings and struck out five.
Saorrono paced the Lady Eagles with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. Dirks had 3 RBI.
In game two, Ozarks exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fifth and pounded out 14 hits to help earn a conference split.
The first three frames turned into a pitcher’s dual as Ozarks’ Brittany Thompson and Texas-Dallas’ Jana Cain allowed a combined four hits and no runs during that span. Texas-Dallas threatened in the top of the fourth, putting two runners in scoring position, but Thompson forced a fly out and then struck out Staci Sours to keep the shutout in tact. Sarah Otteman broke the scoreless game with a solo home run in the bottom half of the fourth. It was her second homer of the season. It was the fifth inning, however, that proved to be the difference. Ashley led off with a single through the left side. Saorrono cranked out a home run to give Ozarks a 3-0 lead. The inning continued when Pianalto and Poirier each reached base on singles. Joslin then delivered a single to score Pianalto. Otteman followed with a single to load the bases. Dirks then drew a walk to make it 5-0. Ashley kept the inning going as she singled in two more runs. The Comets answered with four runs in the top of the sixth, but the Lady Eagles matched that to remain ahead 11-4.
Thompson went the distance to keep her record a perfect 4-0. She struck out six and yielded just one earned run.
Otteman was a perfect 4-for-4 and had 2 RBI.
Ozarks will host East Texas Baptist in a double-header on March 15.