By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
It was the final game of the Regional Championship, and stakes were high. The Sand Springs Lady Sandites had just fought their way up through the losers’ bracket after being upset in game one by Skiatook. In the last game, Union was dealt their first loss of the tournament in a 3-0 shutout by the Sandites. For the Lady Sandites, it was a triple header.
Goose Salyers (15-1) had pitched the last three wins of the tournament, so Oklahoma State University-commit Sydney Pennington (11-6) stepped to the mound for this game. For the Redskins it was Mikael Willard replacing Paige Boyle after the last game.
The first inning was a no-hitter for both teams.
In the top of inning 2, Makenie Addis got on first base for the Redskins with a groundball and up stepped Brylee Dickensen with a groundball to Cody Cheatham at third. Cheatham threw out Dickensen at first and Jessica Schuler tried for a double play back to Cheatham to out Addis, but instead connected with the base runner’s ribs and the game was delayed while Addis decided if she could continue. The Union girl was tough and shrugged it off, but was left stranded on the next play.
It would be a rough game for the Redskins.
Jessica Schuler was first at bat for the Sandites and set loose a centerfield fly for a single and was replaced on base by Caley Thompson. Kali Mallory hit a single and Kimi Presnell was walked, but Jessica Collins and Cameron Clemons were both put out. The pressure was on Madelyn Blair to bring the girls home, and she did not disappoint. Had she put just a little more on it and it would have cleared the fence for a grand slam. Unfortunately, it fell just a tad short, hitting the fence for a 3RBI Triple.
Salyers was next at bat for an RBI double and just like that, Blair had outscored the entire last game.
The Sandite defense also had all pistons firing and didn’t allow a single hit in the third inning either, though Dickensen did draw a walk. With one out and Dickensen on first, Sammi Ibison hit a line drive straight to Salyers in left field who sent it in to Schuler for the double play.
Union was restraining themselves from the errors of the last game, however, and Willard struck out Pennington and Collins to end the inning. The lone Redskin error of the game came in the bottom of the fourth as Cameron Clemons stole second on a catcher’s error.
Finally, in the bottom of the fifth, Sand Springs started swinging for the fence again. Pennington and Collins hit homeruns for the 6-0 lead and Willard was replaced on the mound by Boyle.
It was the top of the sixth and the Redskins needed a big rally to stay alive. Sammi Dutton bunted for a single and Lexi Dobson nailed a double into the centerfield fence. After a brief Sandite timeout, however, the girls were left stranded. Their only chance would be for a major come-back in the top of the seventh.
Unfortunately for them, they would never make it to the seventh.
Clemons and Salyers both hit singles and Stella Millican drew a walk. Sydney Pennington batted in Clemons on a single and the bases were still loaded when Schuler, a Northeastern State University-commit, connected on a grand slam to finish the game 11-0 by run-rule.
After four unimpressive games, the Lady Sandites had found their mojo from earlier in the season and registered three straight shut outs for the Regional Title.
At this moment, the girls (29-8) are in Oklahoma City preparing for the first game of the State Championship tournament against the defending State Champion from Mustang (33-8). The battle will begin at 6:30 PM, and it will be a rematch for the two teams.
Early in the season, the Sandites defeated the Broncos 3-1 at the Broken Arrow tournament, dealing them their second loss of the season. At that point Mustang was 5-2 and Sand Springs was 9-1.
When it comes to mutual opponents, Sand Springs has a 6-2 record and Mustang has a 10-1 record. Sand Springs outscored mutual opponents by an average of 7.62 to 2.625, while Mustang outscored them an average of 5.81 to 3.27.
Sand Springs has pitched eight shutouts and won nine games by run-rule. Mustang has pitched ten shut outs and won seven games by run rule.
On paper, Sand Springs is the better team, but unlike Football and other Oklahoma sports, Softball is a lot less top-heavy and has a lot more talent across the state. All eight teams at this tournament have a legitimate shot at winning, and anything can happen in a playoff game.
The Sandite spirits are high across the town and everyone is rooting for our girls to bring home their first state title. The team left town at 11:00 this morning and were given a large send-off at the Sandite Sporting Complex and a police/fire escort from town.
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