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- Published on Friday, 21 September 2012 00:14
Big offensive push gives Lady Bears the edge in final two games against Oilerettes
Daily Elk Citian
In a district championship game that featured two evenly-matched squads, the Cheyenne-Reydon Lady Bears proved to be too much for the Merritt Oilerettes, winning 7-5 in the final game of the best-of-three series.
Merritt won the first matchup 7-2, getting nine strikeouts from pitcher Korie Glancy, but the Lady Bears roared back and piled up 14 runs combined in the next two contests. The last game was especially cleanly-played, Merritt head coach Sarah Partain, which means all the credit must go to Cheyenne-Reydon.
"I told my girls that I'm not sure what we could have done differently," Partain said. "We played a heck of a defensive ball game. We made plays I haven't seen us make in a long time… The difference was [Cheyenne-Reydon] hit the ball and we didn't always, or we hit it at them."
Both teams reached the championship series after topping Burns Flat-Dill City. After Merritt fell 8-5 in the second game to Cheyenne 8-5, the rubber match proved to be a highly-intense game.
Merritt struck first with a 1-0 lead on a bunt single from Lacey Custer, which scored Bailey Carnes. The Oilerettes took a 2-1 lead when lauren Jones hit a standup triple to right-centerfield scoring Taylor Skelton.
But Cheyenne-Reydon's bats ignited in the third, when a two-RBI triple and an RBI fielder's choice gave it a 4-2 lead. After that, Merritt's defense showed its teeth, as Custer and Skelton made great plays on ground balls in the bottom of the fourth to get Merritt out of the inning.
Skelton's play at second base ended the inning, which clearly fired up coach Partain.
"We've worked hard with middle infield. They stayed for a good 30-40 minutes just by themselves, those two [Skelton and Custer] and it paid off, you can see. It was amazing."
In the bottom of the fifth inning, an RBI double, followed by a sacrifice bunt gave the Lady Bears a 7-2 lead. The deficit seemed like a lot to overcome after a long day of softball, but Merritt wasn't finished yet.
Destry Pollard reached on a walk, then stole second and took third on a passed ball. Jennie Wing's RBI-single scored Pollard, then Wing scored of Glancy's triple to cut the gap to 7-4.
Carnes reached the plate and grounded out, scoring Kendra Tahsequah, who pinch ran for Glancy to bring Merritt within 7-5 of Cheyenne-Reydon. Ultimately though, three runners were left on base and neither team would score again.
Both defenses were that tight, which was a testament to how evenly-matched both teams were. Partain said it didn't seem like either school should have been in the same district.
"A team that probably should have gone on [to regionals] didn't get to go. Cheyenne is going to surprise some people down the road, because [teams] are going to look at their schedule and see they haven't played a whole lot of people.
"But they can hit the ball, I heard that. People told me that and they sure proved it today."
It was the final fast-pitch game for Carnes, Custer, Skelton, and Jones who are all seniors. The group made a special impact on Merritt softball, Partain said.
In game two, Custer nearly made an unassisted triple play when she caught a line drive, tagged a runner then made a throw to first. Plays like that rub off on younger players, like Tahsequah, who laid out for a foul ball in the championship game.
"She made some unbelievable plays," Partain said of Custer. "Those four [seniors] have stuck together. They've bought into what we're trying to do here… They've been on the younger ones to work and do everything you can possibly do. I'm not sure [Tahsequah] would have tried to do that last year."
It's never easy to watch teary-eyed seniors walk off the field, but what they've left on it is what's important, Partain said.
"I really can't say enough about them. I really can't. They're going to be missed."
Merritt District Scores:
Game 1: Cheyenne-Reydon 17, Burns Flat-Dill City 5
Game 2: Merritt 11, Burns Flat-Dill City 1
Game 3: Merritt 7, Cheyenne-Reydon 2
Game 4: Cheyenne Reydon 8, Merritt 5
Game 5 (district championship): Cheyenne-Reydon 7, Merritt 5
Hammon District Scores:
Hammon 7, Canute 3
Hammon 13, Canute 0