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Lady Tigers face Yukon in first round of softball state championship

Broken Arrow plays Yukon in the first round of the Class 6A State Softball Tournament Thursday.
5bbbcc865154aBroken Arrow plays Yukon in the first round of the Class 6A State Softball Tournament Thursday.
Broken Arrow plays Yukon in the first round of the Class 6A State Softball Tournament Thursday.

Broken Arrow head softball coach Randall King has not named a starter for Thursday’s first-round Class 6A State Softball Championship game against Yukon. Fortunately, he has two quality options.

Senior Brooke Mason and junior Kailee Reese both recorded wins in last week’s regionals. Reese allowed just one run on four hits in going seven innings in a 9-1 win over Bixby on Wednesday. She lasted just 2 1/3 innings – allowing two runs on five hits – in the championship game against the Lady Spartans the next day, before being lifted. Mason got the win, giving up just one hit, but getting plenty of offensive help as BA went on to an 11-2 win.

“The more pitching you have the better,” King said, as he looked ahead to the state tournament. “If one person is not doing the job then you have another that will step up, and that’s the way it’s been all year.”

A look at the comparative numbers shows that King cannot go wrong with his choice of starter. Mason is 12-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 59 strikeouts. Reese is 15-2 with a 1.73 ERA and 66 strikeouts.

While King has a choice of who will start in the circle, Yukon will counter with one of the best pitchers on the west side of the state in Bre Johnson. Johnson beat defending state-champion Mustang twice, 6-3 and 5-3 to lead the Millerettes to the state tournament.

Johnson out dueled Reese, 3-2, in the Broken Arrow Invitational, though the Tigers did manage six hits off the Yukon ace. Reese allowed just three hits, but they all came in the game-deciding third inning. After a one-out double, a ground out advanced a runner to third with two outs. From there, two walks and two singles gave Yukon a 3-2 lead. Broken Arrow registered just two more hits before the tournament’s time limit ended the game in the sixth inning.

The Lady Tigers did get revenge – 11-1 at Yukon – a couple of weeks later, but Johnson was not in the circle that game.

“Their pitcher does a good job of working all four quadrants of the strike zone,” King said of Johnson. “It’s important we execute with runners in scoring position and not press. We have to swing at good pitches and, in return, be sound on defense.”

While Broken Arrow did score 20 runs in two regional games, King noted the team “started out a little flat,” in the second game against Bixby.

“Actually it was good for us to face a little adversity,” he said. “If we face that in the state tournament, hopefully we can bounce back from it like we did in the regional final. All teams at the state tournament are there for a reason.”

The BA-Yukon game is the final game of the day in the Class 6A bracket. Broken Arrow, at 32-5-2, and the District 6A-4 champion, is the only team in the tournament with 30 or more wins. Yukon, 22-8, was runner up in District 6A-2.

Other first round games include Deer Creek (27-3) vs. Stillwater (21-10) at 11 a.m.; Owasso (25-9) vs. Westmoore (29-5) at 1:30 p.m.; and Sand Springs (23-8) vs. Edmond North (27-3) at 4 p.m. Sand Springs and Stillwater are both in the Lady Tiger’s district, making District 6A-4 the only district with three state-qualifying teams.

It is Broken Arrow's 35th appearance in the softball state tournament.

All games are scheduled to be played at The Ballfields at Firelake in Shawnee. All tickets are $7.