No. 7 UNK softball earns huge upset for first MIAA Tournament win
EDMOND, Okla. (Press Release) - Senior second baseman Abbie Vodicka had two-run double to cap a four-run fourth and underclassmen Sydney Thomason and Madison Rosenthal combined on a three-hitter to help Nebraska-Kearney stun 5th-ranked Central Oklahoma again, 4-3, late Thursday night in Edmond.
The 2022 MIAA Tournament was supposed to start Wednesday but weather pushed things back a full day and two weather delays on Thursday slowed things down once more. The seventh-seeded Lopers (24-25) and second-seeded Bronchos (44-9) were scheduled to go at 6:30 p.m. but first pitch didn’t come until almost 9 p.m.
Playing its first MIAA Tourney and its first postseason game in 3,660 days (2012 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conf. Tourney elimination game), UNK decided to be a thorn in the ‘Chos side again. The Lopers handed UCO a 3-0 setback on April 22 and won in Edmond late last year, 5-3. UCO suffers just its second home loss (24-2) and will play an elimination game Friday morning vs. Missouri Southern.
The Lions were poised to upset No. 6 Rogers State but the Hillcats hit a walk-off double on a full count pitch to win, 2-1. UNK and RSU (44-9) will meet at 6:30 p.m.; the Cats took two from UNK last weekend in Claremore.
All seven runs tonight were of the unearned variety as the teams, playing a rare night game, combined for four errors. Thomason (Ripon, Calif.) tossed a three-hit complete game shut out to beat UCO two weeks ago and managed two K’s right off the bat. However, a Loper miscue followed by a two-out, two-run double from junior catcher Amelya Huggins made it 2-0 in the first.
UNK scored all of its runs in the fourth and in the process ran UCO star pitcher Kylee Lynch (23-2) from the game. Thomason started things with a single down the line and with sophomore left fielder Abbie Jo Gaube (Omaha Gross) fouling off seven pitches before reaching via fielder’s choice. Thomason was safe at second thanks to a low throw.
Senior center fielder Bri Healy (Omaha Central) followed with an RBI single down the right field line and then the Lopers tied things up after UCO committed another throwing miscue. This time a high throw home allowed Gaube to score. The ‘Chos came in leading Division II with a .983 fielding percentage.
Third baseman Avery Wood (Kearney) then worked Lynch to a full count and drew her eighth walk of the year. That brought up Vodicka (Lincoln Pius), batting in the eight-hole. She has been swinging the hottest bat of any Loper of late and promptly smacked a double to right center to provide the winning margin.
Rosenthal (6-10), a crafty lefty, struck out four and allowed just one hit over the final 3.1 innings to earn the win. Thomason was effective as well, fanning four, walking three and giving up two hits in 3.2 innings. Finally, Gaube made a nice catch of a sinking live drive to end the game.
UNK’s last win over a two seed in the postseason came in 2008 when the Blue & Gold upset Adams State, 5-4, in Golden, Colo. That squad pulled another upset before finishing up 2-2.
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