OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. -- The Bellevue University softball team scored two sixth-inning runs to rally from an early deficit while recording a 2-1 victory over Simpson (Calf.) Univerisity Monday in the Bruins' first game of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round - Oklahoma City Bracket.
The Bruins (50-14) advanced in the winner's bracket and will now play at noon on Tuesday against No. 1-ranked Oklahoma City University (61-1). Kansas Wesleyan University (34-14) and Simpson (43-9) will meet in a loser's bracket contest at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. OCU defeated KWU, 9-0, in six innings in the day's second contest.
Simpson grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Mia Olvera scored from second following a throwing error by BU shortstop Emily Gigax.
BU starter Kelli Fisher got out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth with a strikeout and an infield popup to keep the Red Hawk margin at one run.
Fisher once again got out of bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth by inducing a fly out to center field from California Pacific Conference Player-of-the-Year Madison Wright to keep the Bruin advantage at 2-1 entering the seventh inning.
After a misplayed grounder by Sharpe allowed Amanda Laughlin to reach first in the bottom of the seventh, Olvera put down a sacrifice bunt to advance Laughlin to second. Fisher, however, closed out the contest by striking out Kayla Bailey and inducing a fly out to center field to preserve the 2-1 victory.
Sharpe went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI to lead the BU offense. Fisher (30-6) collected her 30th win of the season, scattering five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in seven innings in the circle.
The Red Hawks stranded 10 baserunners in the game. Hailee Nichols was tagged with the loss, allowing four hits with no walks and two strikeouts in six innings of work.
With today's win, the Bruins are now 7-6 all-time in NAIA Opening Round games.