GREAT BEND — The road to a conference tournament championship will not be easy.

The Ottawa University softball team won a 2-1 nine-inning contest against Tabor College Thursday in the opening round of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. OU is the No. 4 seed in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament hosted in Great Bend. Friday’s quarterfinal game against top-seeded Avila University turned into another barn-burner with the Eagles snatching a 7-6 walk-off victory.

The Lady Braves now must win five straight games Saturday in order to claim the tournament title. They are set to play the winner of Kansas Wesleyan and Bethany College in the loser’s bracket.

In Thursday’s opening game, both Ottawa and Tabor scored a run each in the second inning. Kori Lacey drove in Shayla Kaeo from third with an RBI single for OU, and the score stayed knotted until the bottom of the ninth inning. Sierra Rettele smacked a lead-off double and Maddi Brown came in to pinch run. Tomi-Lyn Hickman reached on a but and advanced Brown to third, paving the way for Lacey to get the no-out, game-winning knock to score Brown.

Brandi Cayler pitched all nine innings for OU, allowing one run on six hits while striking out two and walking one.