The Lady Braves come out of non-conference play leading the pack.

Following a split doubleheader Saturday against visiting Midland University, the Ottawa University softball team preps for its Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference opener. The team hosts Sterling College (5-11) starting 2 p.m. at Alumni Park, 624 E. 11th St., Ottawa, in a doubleheader.

OU (17-7) is 3-1 in its last four games, and is ranked No. 19 in NAIA DII.

Ottawa did stumble in its weekend showdown with Midland, coming just short of sweeping the Lady Warriors in two low-scoring contests.

The lone run of the first game came in the bottom of the fourth. Izzy Thorp, freshman infielder, scored from third when Kori Lacey, sophomore outfielder, was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. In the final three frames, Midland managed just one baserunner, and Ottawa took the 1-0 win.

Offensively, Ottawa managed just five hits and one extra-base hit in Game 1. Rebekah Clinton, senior pitcher, tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing six hits while striking out four and walking zero.

The OU bats had to rally in Game 2 after Midland scored three runs in the top of the first inning. Ellena Cott-Laurie, OU junior catcher, hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first to get a run back, but neither team scored until the seventh inning.

It was Cott-Laurie who came up clutch, again. After Payton Matejka, freshman outfielder, worked a one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Warriors made a pitching change to Jaylee Hinrichs. Cott-Laurie smashed the first pitch of the at-bat for a two-run homer that tied the game 3-3. Aryn Smith, junior designated player, walked in the next at-bat to put the potential winning run on base. Two straight pop-outs ended the inning.

The Lady Warriors got Nicole O’Haver across from second on the International Tie Breaker rule in the top of the eighth on a sac bunt and an RBI single.

Alexa Romero, junior second baseman, started at second base in the bottom of the frame, but two pop outs and a strike out ended the rally short. Midland took the 4-3 win.

“We have to move on from this one because on Wednesday it is all for keeps,” Jay Kahnt, OU head softball coach, said. “We can’t let this one affect that one. It is going to be a good conference race, and we have to make sure we come out strong and put ourselves in a good position.”

Cott-Laurie had all three of Ottawa’s RBIs, and finished 3-4 at the plate. Clinton pitched her second full-game, striking out five and walking one over eight innings.