UCO Softball Knocks Season Out of the Park
Senior Tori Collet, 11, hits the ball at the UCO vs Southwest Baptist University Game at the Broncho Softball Field on April 7, 2017. (Provided/ Vista Archives).
After finishing the regular season with the best record in the MIAA conference and winning the conference championship, the University of Central Oklahoma’s softball season ended after a 4-0 loss to Augustana (S.D.) in the NCAA Regional Consolation Final.
The Bronchos entered the season ranked 20th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, climbing as high as the ninth best team in the country. The returning core of Morgan Heard, JoBi Heath, Carli Jones and the addition of the University of Oklahoma transfer pitcher Jayden Chestnut placed high expectations on the Bronchos.
— UCO Bronchos (@ucoathletics) May 15, 2017
UCO started the year by winning their first five games, and as the regular season came to a close, the team had won 22 of their past 24 games. Their hot streak continued as the Bronchos swept the conference tournament, winning it for the first time since joining the MIAA in 2013.
Riding an eight-game win-streak into the national tournament, UCO was ready to bring home a national championship. Their quest for their second championship started off on the right foot, as the Bronchos shutout Pittsburg State 9-0. But, during the next two games UCO had trouble scoring, a strength of the teams throughout the entire season.
In the second round, the Bronchos faced off against Minnesota State and were held to only three hits, going scoreless in a 3-0 loss. UCO lost their next game against Augustana, officially ending their season.
The Bronchos finished the season with a record of 48-11, the second most wins in school history, in the debut season of their $2.4 million stadium.
“Before this it was tough, we didn’t have a place to really gather and to discuss, have meetings, and watch film and now that we have this were able to utilize some things we’ve been wanting to do.” White said.
UCO had four players named to the 2017 Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) All-Region Team. Tori Collet and Carrie Abrams earned First Team All-Central Region honors, while Morgan Heard and Jayden Chestnut were placed on the Second Team.
Additionally, Abrams won MIAA Player of the Year and became just the 14th player in UCO history to be named to the CCA All-American Team. The Bronchos have now had the MIAA player of the year in back to back seasons as Heard earned the honor last year.
“Carrie Abrams is such a hard worker and a phenomenal kid.” White said.
UCO once again finished the season as the best hitting team in the MIAA conference, with a .335 average. The Bronchos also finished first in total hits (540), runs (351), doubles (105), homeruns (56), runs batted in (324), and slugging percentage (.526).
A year after finishing with the 7th best Earned Run Average (ERA) in the MIAA, the Bronchos jumped all the way to first with a 1.71 ERA. UCO also gave up the second fewest hits in the conference, the least amount of runs, and the second lowest opposing batting average.
With every season’s end, comes a few seniors who graduated. This year Ashleigh Tramel, Brooke Zukerman, Tori Collet, Lexi Watson, and Jessi Walker finish their Bronchos career’s.
“That senior class is one that I’ll always remember,” White said. “I truly believe that those seniors have left their mark and left a legacy here.”