It took the Crowder Lady Roughriders one extra inning to achieve a 37-1 overall record, but you can be sure it was more than worth it during a 7-6 victory in eight innings Wednesday against old rival Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
The Lady ‘Riders earned the sweep, winning Game 1 by a 4-2 score, and improved to 21-0 at the friendly confines of Roughrider Softball Field. They also increased their winning streak to 11 games, a day after moving up three spots in the NJCAA Division I rankings to No. 16. Crowder joins top-ranked Florida SouthWestern in being the only one-loss softball programs this season in NJCAA-I.
At the 38-game junction last season, Crowder owned a 32-6 record.
Shelby Chavers’ sacrifice fly in the eighth provided that dramatic victory. Crowder trailed 3-0 early on.
In the 4-2 opener, Crowder pushed across one run in the third and three in the sixth for a 4-0 lead, while NEO scored both its runs in the last chance seventh.
Bailey Buffington earned the victory for Crowder, as she allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits with nine strikeouts and three walks over seven innings. Buffington finished at 122 pitches with 78 strikes and 44 balls. She improved to 16-1 on the season and raised her strikeouts to 138 and walks to 13 over 98 innings.
Buffington prevailed over NEO freshman counterpart Mary Collins, who allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk over six innings.
Lexi McClellan and Kristen Wade each led Crowder with two hits and Payton Wildeman, Chavers, Lexi Lowrance, and Dia Jackson provided the other half of Crowder’s hits with one each. McClellan doubled and singled, Wade singled twice, and Lowrance doubled, with the other hits all singles.
McClellan led off the third by reaching second on an error by NEO left fielder Mikaela Workman, NEO’s lone error in the contest. McClellan advanced 60 feet on a Baylor Miles 5-3 groundout and then scored on a Wildeman single.
In the three-run sixth, Lowrance started the rally with a double and substitute pinch runner Morgan Montgomery came around to score on a Wade RBI single. Wade delivered her single on a 2-2 pitch. Jackson and McClellan added RBI singles to close out Crowder’s scoring.
A four-run cushion proved more than good enough for Buffington.
Crowder returns to action Friday on the road against Maple Woods — Crowder swept Maple Woods in Neosho earlier this season, 7-0 and 14-3 — and the Lady ‘Riders play their next 10 games on the road with doubleheaders against Maple Woods, State Fair, Neosho County, St. Charles, and Jefferson. Crowder returns home April 14 for a pair against Region 16 foe Three Rivers, the opponent who gave Crowder its only loss so far this season.
Three Rivers owned a 23-2 overall record entering Thursday’s doubleheader against East Central.