Story and photo by: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Charles Page High School slow-pitch softball team (0-2) had a rough start in the season opener Tuesday evening. Both Lady Sandite opponents had already played several games by the time the season started for Sand Springs and had a clear edge.
The girls dropped a 14-7 loss in the first game to No.8 Tahlequah (5-4). The Lady Sandites were undeterred by an early 5-0 deficit after the first inning and battled to tie things up 6-6 by the close of the fifth, but the Lady Tigers’ bats exploded for seven runs in the seventh inning for the win. Oklahoma State University-commit Sydney Pennington and Northeastern State University-signee Jessica Schuler both hit home runs.
Tahlequah played No.10 Jenks next and fell 10-8, then it was the Sandites’ turn to face the Lady Trojans (8-2). The Sandites landed 24 hits on 39 at bats, including six doubles and five homeruns. Schuler and Maddelyn Blair each hit two home runs, and Pennington added the fifth.
Jenks put three on base in the first, two by walk, one by single, but two were stranded and the third was put out on a fielder’s choice to bring in the Sandites to bat.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University-signee Kennedy “Goose” Salyers reached on an error, Kimi Presnall doubled, and Pennington was walked to load the bases. Schuler popped out to second, but Jessica Collins singled to left field to bring in Salyers and Presnall for an early 2-0 lead. Maddelyn Blair flied out to left field next, then Stella Millican singled to right to score Pennington. Millican was then caught off base to bring Jenks in to bat.
The next at-bats for each team were no hitters but the top of the third saw Jenks take the lead. Reagan Berkinshaw reached on an error, Ally Ryan doubled, and Catheryn Rodman was walked to load the bases. Kate Kouplen hit the centerfield fence for a 2RBI single, Bree Baker doubled on an error to score Rodman, Ayanna Upchurch sacrificed to score Kouplen, and Aubrey Lewellen sacrificed to score Baker for a 5-3 lead.
Pennington hit her second homerun of the evening to score Presnall, who singled, and tied things up 5-5, then Schuler hit her second homerun for the lead. Collins and Millican walked and Kalli Mallory singled to load the bases and Rachel Blair singled to bring in Collins and Millican. Blair was forced out at second on the next play and the home team had taken an 8-5 lead.
The Lady Trojans scored two in the top of the fourth as Baker singled to score Rodman and Memory Duncan walked in on loaded bases, but the Sandites retaliated quickly and effectively. Salyers singled, Presnall doubled, and Collins singled to score Saylers. Maddelyn Blair hit her second homer of the night to score Presnall and Collins. Millican doubled and came home on a Cameron Clemmons single for a 13-7 advantage.
Rodman smacked a triple to score Delaney Knorr and Ryan in the top of the fifth, then the Trojans pitched a no-hitter to come in for their glory inning. With winds gusting at over 20 MPH, Millican was having a hard time pitching anything but balls, and the Trojan batters refused to swing. Six straight batters were walked without swinging once. Then, Berkinshaw doubled to score loaded bases. Ryan walked after that and the Sandites changed pitchers to Schuler. The pitching change did little to alter the offensive slaughter, however, and the Jenks bats came alive.
Rodman singled to load the bases, Kouplen singled in Berkinshaw, and Baker singled in Ryan. Ayanna Upchurch singled in Rodman, Brenlyn McCoy singled in Kouplen and Baker, and Duncan singled to load the bases. Finkenstaedt walked in Upchurch, Knorr walked in McCoy, and Berkinshaw sacrificed to score Duncan and Finkenstaedt. Henderson sacrificed to score Knorr, then Rodman hit a homer for a 26-13 advantage before the streak finally came to an end as Kouplen was put out at first.
Down by 13 runs, there was little hope for the Sandites, but nobody told them that. Pennington singled and came in on yet another homerun by Schuler. Collins singled and came in on Maddy Blair’s third homerun of the game and the Sandites were down 26-17 by the end of the sixth.
Schuler gave up only two hits in the seventh and no runs. Jacie Taber singled to left field but was put out on a fielder’s choice off a Salyers hit. The Trojans tried for a double play but over threw first and Salyers was able to double. Presnall hit a flyball for a single on error, and Penington walked to load the bases. Schuler walked to score Salyers, then Collins doubled to score all three runners on base. Millican sacrificed to score Kellie Johnson, the courtesy runner for Collins. Clemons doubled but was ultimately left stranded as Rachel Blair flied out to center.
Millican, who is signed to play for Mid-American Christian University, got the loss for both games. The 26-22 loss was the highest scoring game in years for the Lady Sandites, who return to action Thursday at 5:00 pm against 5A No.13 Berryhill (4-4).