Zias split with defending NAIA champs

Freedom New Mexico

0KLAHOMA CITY — Sophomore Kristen Cruickshank pitched a seven-hitter and Eastern New Mexico University took advantage of two errors to score twice in the fourth inning en route to a 4-2 victory over defending NAIA champion Oklahoma City University on Friday in pool play of the Stars’ tournament.

The teams then played again after Mid-American Nazarene, the other team in the pool, dropped out of the tournament. The Stars gained a split for the day with a 5-1 win over the Zias.

ENMU (18-23) is now 2-1 for the season against Oklahoma City, having beaten the Stars 7-2 in a tourney hosted by West Texas A&M in late February.

The Zias will play again at 10 a.m. (MDT) today in bracket play against Southern Nazarene.

Cruickshank (8-8) walked two and struck out five in ENMU’s win. Right fielder Haley Hays and shortstop Casandra McCommons each had two of the Zias’ eight hits.

Hays singled with one out in the first and scored on a double by Alex Mayo Otis. The Zias then extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth, with one run scoring on a throwing error and the other on a single by McCommons.

OCU (21-9) cut the margin to 3-2 in the fifth on a two-run single by Melissa Moore, but Cruickshank preserved the lead by striking out Brittani Ellis with two runners in scoring position. ENMU got the run back in the bottom half when Anna Hershkowitz led off with a single, took second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored when catcher Erin Slettvet’s throw went into left field.

Cruickshank allowed only a two-out in the seventh the rest of the way, getting Slettvet on strikes to end it.

In the second game, the Stars jumped on ENMU starter Natalie Woodside (7-12) for four runs on five hits in the top of the first.

Center fielder Melody Murphy led off the game with her fourth home run en route to a 4-for-4 performance at the plate. Slettvet later doubled home two runs and scored on a single by Ellis.

Senior Nicole Dickson got the final out of the first inning and went on to hold the Stars to one run over the final 6 2/3 innings. Laurin Hess’ two-out infield hit in the seventh brought home Oklahoma City’s only other run.

Jenni Gaby (6-1) pitched six innings for the Stars, allowing seven hits. The Zias’ lone run came in the fifth, when Laura Thompson hit a one-out double down the left field line and scored on Mayo Otis’ two-out single to left.