OKLAHOMA CITY — A pair of rallies from the home team turned out to be the difference in the first match-up of the NAIA opening rounds on Monday.
Second-seeded and No. 16-ranked Olivet Nazarene answered 1-0 and 2-1 Morningside College leads with a single run in the first and a three-spot in the third to topple the Mustangs 4-2. Senior first baseman Rebecca Riley and freshman third baseman Morgan Nixon led head coach Jessica Jones-Sitzmann's crew with a pair of hits apiece, as Riley added two RBI to her afternoon at Ann Lacey Stadium.
Morningside senior pitcher Hallie Misiaszek battled the Tigers' line-up throughout. She gave up only two earned runs and issued just one walk while striking out two.
Olivet Nazarene scored thrice in the third inning. Emily Carstens hit a two-run home run, then Miranda Southall had an RBI single for the game's final run. After that, Misiaszek held the Tigers to two hits.
Carstens also earned the win for the Tigers, as she allowed two earned runs on eight hits in seven innings.
After falling behind 4-2 in the third inning, Morningside tried to rally in the fourth when Cortney Joiner singled. But Olivet Nazarene was able to turn a double play with the next batter to avoid getting in a jam.
Olivet Nazarene got the first two outs of the fifth inning when the Mustangs started to rally again. Riley reached on an error and Morgan Nixon followed with a double to left-center. Riley had to stop at third, though, and Olivet Nazarene got out of the two-out jam with a ground ball back to the pitcher's mound.
That was the last batter Carstens allowed to reach in the game.
The Mustangs (30-10) look to remain alive in the Oklahoma backet Tuesday. They begin their journey to work back through the loser's bracket with an 11 a.m. elimination battle against fourth-seeded Friends (Kansas). Top-seeded Oklahoma City, which is ranked No. 3 overall in NAIA, had no trouble with Friends on Monday, scoring five runs in the second inning for a 6-0 lead. Oklahoma City went on to beat Friends 9-0 and held Friends to only one hit.
Friends is 28-18 on the season. Oklahoma City was able to tag Friends pitcher Hali Walters for six earned runs and 12 hits. She only walked one batter but Oklahoma City had one home run and two doubles off Walters.