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March 7/2014

Rangers Sweep SNU; Remain Atop the GAC Standings

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EDMOND, Okla.— The Northwestern Oklahoma State softball team extended its winning streak to five games with a doubleheader sweep of Southern Nazarene, Friday, by scores of 7-5 and 11-0.

Northwestern (13-3, 5-1 Great American Conference) showed little sign of rust, despite a 13-day layoff since its last game. Tyler Casada and Jessika Sandoval each had five-hit days, and Shyanne Nichols added four of her own over the two games. Seven different Rangers drove in at least two runs.

In game one, Tyler Casada went 4-for-4 at the plate, and Jessika Sandoval finished 3-for-5. Sandoval’s RBI double broke a 5-all tie in the top of the seventh and kicked off a two-run rally.

Shelby Anderson (8-1) earned the win in both games, working a total of 6.2 scoreless innings to lower her season ERA to a microscopic 0.39. She came on in relief in the opener and worked four shutout frames as the starter in the nightcap.

The Rangers backed her with more than enough offense in game two. Four different players (Anderson, Casada, Lindsay Thorstenson and Sly Kelley) hit two-run homeruns in a run rule victory that lasted just five innings.

Northwestern and SNU will not play the final two games of the series. Saturday forecasts call for another round of winter weather, and SNU’s field remains unplayable. The teams played Friday’s games on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University but were unable to make similar arrangements for games three and four.

Game One
Northwestern 7, Southern Nazarene 5

Northwestern built a comfortable 5-1 lead in the first four innings of game one.

The Rangers took their first lead in the top of the second. Casada opened the first of her four hits. An error helped prolong the inning, and a two-out wild pitch allowed Northwestern to cash in with an unearned tally.

An inning later, the Rangers made it a 2-0 game with a little more help. Megan Wilson struck out swinging but reached anyway when strike three bounced to the backstop. Shyanne Nichols, who finished with a team-high three runs batted in, pushed Wilson across with a two-out single.

SNU got one back in the third, but the Rangers continued to pull away. They slugged out four runs on six hits in the top of the fourth. Tiffany Santistevan homered to lead off the inning. Megan Sanders, Sandoval and Wilson followed with consecutive singles. Nichols’ two-out single down the left field line chased in a pair to make it a 5-1 lead.

The Storm got to Ranger started Kellie Mason for two in the fifth and were making more noise in the bottom of the sixth when Jason Anderson turned to his bullpen. Shelby Anderson came on with one, the bases loaded and the Rangers still nursing a 5-3 lead.

SNU cut it to one on an illegal pitch, which allowed each of the runners to move up a base. A Ranger throwing error tied it, but Anderson escaped the inning with no further damage.

Santistevan led off the seventh for Northwestern with a walk, and Sanders reached on a fielding error. Sandoval put the Rangers back in front with a one-out double to center, which also moved Sanders to third. She scored on the next play when Wilson lifted a sac fly to center for a 7-5 lead.

Anderson retired SNU in order in the bottom half of the inning to nail it down.

Game Two
Northwestern 11, Southern Nazarene 0 (5 inn.)

The Ranger bats stayed hot for game two. After scoreless first inning, they recorded 10 hits over the next three innings to bring in 11 runs.

A three-run top of the second kicked it all off. Nichols opened with a double, and Thorstenson put the Rangers on the board with a two-run homer over the leftfield fence. Santistevan and Kelley followed with a single and a walk, setting up Sandoval’s RBI base hit to make it 3-0 Northwestern.

Santistevan’s two-out double brought in two more runs in the top of the third. Kelley followed with a two run blast to left center, and the Rangers suddenly led 7-0.

In the fourth, Sandoval kick-started another four-run rally with a leadoff double. Two batters later, Anderson blasted her seventh homerun of the season – four shy of the Northwestern single-season record with nearly two months still to be played.

Nichols reset the table with a double, and this time Casada cleared the bases with a two-run shot of her own.

Anderson kept SNU off the board for one more inning, and Erin Norrie worked the fifth and final frame to finish out the victory.