By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Charles Page High School varsity softball team (27-8) got off to a great start at Regionals Wednesday, shutting out Claremore (12-22) 8-0, then taking a 7-2 lead over Stillwater (25-12) into the seventh inning. The Lady Pioneers wouldn't go down without a fight, however, and rallied for seven runs in the seventh to put the game away and send Sand Springs to the consolation bracket where they will now have to win all three games of a triple-header to earn their way to the State Championship.
Neither team landed a hit till the bottom of the third when the Sandites took a 2-0 lead. Madelyn Blair reached on an error at shortstop and was joined on base by freshman Felicity Horn who singled on a full count. Both runners scored on a double from Jessica Collins, who was joined by Sydney Pennington and Makenna Skaggs to load the bases. None of the runners would score, however, as Collins was put out at home and Skaggs was put out at second on a double play.
Pennington, an Oklahoma State University committed senior with a .564 batting average, was intentionally walked three times in the game and was never allowed to hit.
Stillwater tied things up in the top of the fourth with two hits and a trio of walks. After striking out Julia Cottrill, sophomore pitcher Jacie Taber (10-6) struck Alexis Hoang with the pitch, gave up a single to Taylor Tuck, and hit Morgan Rohwer with the pitch to load the bases. She then walked in a run and gave up a single to Laikyn Anderson to tie things up at 2-2. Rohwer was forced out at home on a fielder's choice, and Sage Fluty fried out to right field to bring in the Sandites.
The Lady Sandites exploded for three more runs in the bottom of the inning after Rachel Blair drew a walk, Presnell doubled, and Madelyn Blair doubled to score both runners. Horn was walked next, Collins was put out on a fielder's choice to land Collins at first, but Pennington was walked to load the bases. Taber hit a single to bring in Horn, but a fly out from Sabrina Usher brought the inning to a close at 5-4.
Taber struck out the first two batters of the fifth inning and put out Hoang at first to bring her team back in where Elizabeth Luttrell hit her second home run of the day to make it 6-2. Rachel Blair was walked once again, and like the first time, scored on a double from her sister.
Neither team landed a hit in the sixth inning and with only one inning left to play it looked like the Sandites had it all wrapped up. Stillwater, however, managed three hits and capitalized on Sandite errors and walks to come from behind for the win.
Anderson reached on an error by Madelyn Blair at third base, was joined by Hunter White with a single, and scored on a single from Fluty. Gracie Ore walked to load the bases, and Cottrill was walked to score White. Hoang smacked a double to bring in Fluty and Ore, then Tuck walked to reload the bases. Rohwer reached on an error by Pennington at shortstop to score courtesy runner Landry Leming, then Hoang tagged up on a fly out by Taylor Lane to take the lead. Tuck tagged up on a fly out by Anderson for the final run of the game before White grounded out to bring in the Sandites.
Sand Springs was unable to land a hit and the Pioneers secured the victory. The Pioneers went through three pitchers over the course of the game, with Lane, Rohwer, and Caitlin Fluty all seeing action. Fluty got the win on the mound, giving up two hits and no walks with one strikeout. Taber got the loss with five hits, nine runs, five earned runs, seven strikeouts, and seven walks.
The Sandites will return to action Thursday at noon when they replay Claremore who advanced through the consolation bracket with a 10-2 win over Sapulpa (9-20). The Sandites will not only have to beat Claremore to get a rematch with Stillwater, but they'll have to beat Stillwater twice to win the Regional and advance to State. Last year the Sandites battled their way back through the Consolations with three-straight wins after an upset by Claremore, and went on to play the State Championship game where they lost 4-3.