Lady Tigers look for regular season success to continue in Regionals
UPDATE: Broken Arrow to plays Bixby for chance to advance to state at noon Thursday
UPDATE: Broken Arrow won two run-rule games - 13-1 over Shawnee and 7-0 over Bixby - and is one win away from advancing to next week's Class 6A State Fast Pitch Tournament at the Ballfields at Fire Lake in Shawnee. Bixby, was a 6-2 winner of Shawnee in the first game, and with Shawnee's loss in Game 2 to BA it was eliminated. If the Tigers win Thursday's noon game against the Spartans they will advance to the state tournament. A BA loss in the first game would result in a championship game at 2 p.m. between BA and Bixby.
In four games against the visiting teams – Bixby and Shawnee – playing in Broken Arrow’s three-team softball regional on Wednesday and Thursday, the Broken Arrow Lady Tigers have scored 51 runs and allowed five.
That leads to a quiet confidence for BA head softball coach Randall King.
“If we show up and do what we’re supposed to do then we think we’ve got a great chance,” King said about winning the regional and hopefully advancing his team to the OSSAA State Softball Championship for the 16th time in 17 years as head coach.
King is still cautious about making plans for a trip to the Ballfields at Fire Lake in Shawnee, the site for this year’s state tournament, Oct. 17-19.
“You know what they say about playing a team more than three times,” he said. “It’s kind of scary a little bit.”
King was referencing the Bixby Spartans, who the Tigers have beaten three times, the last of which was two weeks ago, 11-1, in the Bixby Tournament. The Spartans finished the regular season 9-15 and 6-6 in District 6A-3. Broken Arrow won 6A-3, going 12-0 in district play. Overall, the Tigers are 34-2, the best record in the state. In fact, the Tigers have lost just one game all season to an Oklahoma team, that was 6-4 at Westmoore in August. Westmoore (26-7, 13-1) finished tied in District 6A-3 with Southmoore (25-6, 13-1), a team BA beat, 9-0, also in August.
Broken Arrow defeated Shawnee 9-1 in the Tigers third game of the season, so King is familiar with what the Wolves bring into the regional.
“They have an unbelievable shortstop, who has a lot of power,” King said “Hopefully we can keep people in front of her off base, and we can make her swing the bat with nobody on base.
“Their pitcher is awfully good. It will be a test for us.”
The same could be said for the girls King can send to the circle.
In 36 games, the team posted a 1.72 ERA and allowed just 50 earned runs in 203 innings. Seniors Savannah Evans and Kailee Reese have combined to throw 152.2 of those innings. Evans leads the squad with a record of 15-0 and 81 strike outs. She has a 1.32 ERA. Reese is 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA and 34 Ks. Sophomore Saige Smith, who has seen more time in the circle as the season has progressed, is 9-0, with a .85 ERA and 48 strike outs.
“We have a little depth, as far pitching goes,” an understated King said. “We need to stay ahead in the count and hit our spots.”
This team has not won 34 games on pitching alone.
“We’re strong in all three areas; hitting, pitching and defense,” King confirmed. “That gives us a good chance to win any game we play.”
Broken Arrow has scored 326 runs, hitting .411 as a team with an On-base plus Slugging percentage of 1.078
Leadoff hitter McKayla Carney is batting .523 and has scored a team-best 45 runs. Auryana Johnson, who is usually called on to move Carney over, is hitting .438 from the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
“That gives those people in the middle of the line up a chance to get RBIs,” King said.
And they have. Maci Cole has 45 RBIs; Evans, 44; Reagan Edwards, 25 and Kyleigh Lamont, 33.
The hitting continues throughout the lineup as King pointed out “When your one, two and three whole hitters have some RBI’s you know those kids are doing a good job of getting on base at the bottom of the order.”
If the lower third of the order does what it has all season, then King and his Lady Tigers will be ready for three-day stay at Fire Lake.
Bixby and Shawnee play at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Broken Arrow will play one of the teams at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Depending how games play out on Wednesday, the Regional championship will be at noon Thursday with an “if necessary” game scheduled for 2 p.m.