By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs Lady Sandite softball team had a rough start to Regionals Tuesday, losing 2-1 in the first round to Claremore.
Sand Springs Schools gave students an excused absence if their parents called them out to attend the home regionals and it resulted in a packed house. Unfortunately, having a large home crowd wasn’t enough to turn the tide in their favor.
It’s been a long road to State for Sand Springs, going 25-7 overall in the regular season. The girls were undefeated 13-0 in district play up until the final game when they lost 4-0 to Yukon, a team they had beat 7-6 earlier in the season, and lost their district title in the process.
The girls apparently haven’t gotten over that disappointment, as their mojo’s been off ever since. The next game they barely beat Skiatook 4-3 in extra innings, and now in Regionals they lose to Claremore. Both teams have mediocre records and should have been easy wins for a team that won eight games by ten or more points and had five shutouts.
The Sandite offense had a better batting average, slugging average, and on base percentage than the Lady Zebras, but something just wasn’t quite clicking and the runs weren’t coming in. The Zebras scored two runners on only six hits, but Sand Springs had ten base-hits and could only bring one runner home.
Sydney Pennington got the loss on the mound for the Sandites, allowing one earned run and striking out six batters with a .452 strike percentage. Kiley Lawson got the win on the mound with one earned run, three strikeouts, and a .383 strike percentage.
The Lady Sandites started off well in the first inning, allowing only one hit, and putting out two runners on a double play as Pennington scooped up a groundball hit by McKenzie Thomas and sent it to second base to put out Kenzie Johnson, then Kimi Presnell put out Thomas with a fast pass to Jessica Schuler on first. The home team was put to a stop offensively, however, and left Jessica Collins stranded on third.
Claremore was first to light up the scoreboard as Kassidee Flowers was batted in on a left field single by Abbey Mayfield in the third inning. In the bottom of the inning Salyers tried to even things out with a groundball into right field for a single, but was left stranded on the next play.
In the fourth inning Kali Mallory took advantage of an error to take first base but was also left stranded on the next play.
In inning five, the Red Zebras furthered their lead as Holland Rader was hit by a pitch and went on to score on a single by Mayfield.
Cody Cheatham and Presnell were left stranded in the fifth and in the sixth Schuler hit a single and Mallory hit a double just for both to be left hanging as Rachel Blair was put out at first.
It came down to seventh inning. Pennington allowed no hits to start the inning. Presnell and Madelyn Blair both hit singles and Salyers was walked to load the bases. Up walked Pennington to home plate and it looked like the setting for a storybook grand slam to end the game. The first pitch was a ball. The second pitch sounded like thunder as it connected with Pennington’s bat and moments later connected with the fence. Presnell crossed home plate. Blair was fast, but the Zebra defense was faster and she was put out at third to end the game.
The Lady Sandites fell to 25-8 for the season as Claremore broke their losing record and improved to 15-15.
In a stunning upset, the home team found themselves headed to the losers’ bracket.