Coyotes win it the hard way

CALDWELL, Idaho - Oregon Tech head coach Greg Stewart summed it up with three words - "A buzz saw," - in referring to College of Idaho pitcher Nickayla Skinner.

The senior right-hander held the powerful OIT attack to just one run, tossing a pair of complete game gems, leading the Lady Yotes to the title of the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round Bracket and a berth to the NAIA Softball World Series.

Skinner limited the Owls (35-14) to just six hits in a 2-1 victory to force a winner-take-all title game. She upped the ante in the night cap, tossing a four-hit shutout and clubbing a long two-run homer, as the Yotes earned a 10-0 win.

Withstanding four elimination games to advance, the Lady Yotes (33-16) move on to the 10-team World Series in Columbus, Ga., meeting Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) at 8 a.m. (MDT) in their opener on May 23.

In Game 1, the Coyotes took advantage of two OIT errors to plate a pair of third inning runs. With Katie Rowe at first, Briana Brace hit an infield single to short, with Shauna Collins throw to first going wild. First baseman Cassidy Olson fired to second to try and get Brace, but the throw went awry, allowing Rowe to score. Three batters later, a Destiny Turner bloop RBI single made it 2-0.

Tech answered in the fourth on a Tre Sullivan RBI double, then loaded the bases with two out in the fifth. Skinner dug deep and got Olson, OIT's leading hitter, to ground out to end the threat, then retired 6-of-7 to end the game.

C of I put pressure on OIT from the outset in Game 2, scoring a run on a Skinner single, and two more on a wild two-out throw from Owls third-baseman Sadie Birch, to grab a 3-0 lead.

OIT threatened early, putting two on with no outs in the first, and loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Skinner escaped damage with two key strikeouts to end the frames.

The senior, who became the CCC's all-time winningest pitcher with her 80th career victory in Game 1, clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth to make it 5-0. The Yotes poured it on from there, taking advantage of three of OIT's six errors in the contest, to plate five runs to break the game wide open.