USAO's Kristen Prieto makes a play on defense during a game at the conference tournament Thursday.

Thursday meant the start of conference tournament play for the Sooner Athletic Conference softball teams.

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma got off to a strong start in pool play, winning both of its games Thursday at Bill Smith Ballpark in Chickasha. USAO opened the tournament with a pair of 8-0 run-rule victories over Southwestern Christian University and Texas Wesleyan University.

The Drovers were scheduled to complete pool play Friday against Southwestern Assemblies of God University. USAO announced that the game was moved to Saturday, and the tournament championship was moved to Sunday.

Sophomore pitcher Emily Cerny picked up the win in the circle against SCU in USAO's first game of the day. She went three innings and struck out eight batters. Cerny did not allow a single hit in her three innings of work.

Freshman Lyndie Ervin went the final two innings, striking out two batters.

It did not take USAO long to take a lead over SCU. Destinie Lookout’s RBI single in the bottom of the first inning put the Drovers on top 1-0. Lookout had a 2-for-2 game at the plate with two RBIs.

USAO then pulled away with five runs in the second inning.

Following an RBI groundout by Dakota Clouse, Kristen Prieto hit a two-run double to give the Drovers a 4-0 lead in the second. Base hits from Lookout and Randa Hatter completed the scoring in the inning.

Clouse’s second RBI came on a single in the third, and USAO’s final run of the game came in the fourth on a wild pitch.

Lookout continued her big day at the plate in USAO’s second game of the day. She got the Drovers on the board against the Rams with an RBI double in the bottom half of the first inning.

The Drovers pulled away from the Rams in the third by scoring their final seven runs of the game. Prieto’s RBI single got the scoring started in the inning. Hatter, Karmyn Pearn, Darci Chester and Cerny each had at least one RBI in the inning.

Chester’s two RBIs led the USAO offense. Cerny also picked up the win as the starting pitcher in the second game. She went all five innings and struck out six batters in the victory.

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