Bob Forrest Guest Sports Writer
The Ada News
Oklahoma City —
Top-ranked Dale’s 13-2 run-rule victory over No. 3 Latta in Tuesday’s Class 4A state championship game at Hall of Fame Stadium was all about location, location, location.
While the Lady Panthers spent most of the evening (the game started 90 minutes late because of a wet field in the morning) hitting line drives at defenders wearing red jerseys, the Lady Pirates found gaps, holes and, on three occasions, landing spots beyond the fence on their way to banging out 20 hits in just five at-bats.
Dale cleanup hitter Sam Barry homered twice and drove in four runs, two-hole hitter Danielle Dockrey had three hits, including a solo home run in the second inning, and scored three runs, and Kortlyn Wilkey followed Barry in the batting order with four hits. The impressive fireworks display ended an inspired run through the first two rounds of the state tournament by Latta, which opened the day with an 11-0 run-rule victory over No. 7 Oktaha, then beat No. 2 Colbert, 7-2, in the semifinals en route to the program’s first-ever appearance in the slowpitch title game.
“We had a nice day overall,” Latta coach Jim Foster said after seeing his club finish the season at 30-10. “I knew we had to get on a roll (against Dale) and we just never did. We hit some balls right at some people and lined into a couple of double plays that killed our momentum.
“I’m proud of my girls — they worked hard and didn’t panic, and they didn’t panic in this game,” he added. “Dale just hit the ball too well.”
Dale 13, Latta 2
The Lady Pirates batted around while scoring five first-inning runs — three on Barry’s mammoth home run to left — and made it 7-0 on solo home runs by Dockrey and Barry in the second.
Latta, meanwhile, got a leadoff single from Keeli Kessinger in the second, but she was erased on a double play started when Cheyenne Crews lined out to winning pitcher Caitlyn Pitchford. Siera Green, who had allowed just two runs all day heading into the Dale game, worked a scoreless inning in the third, then Nicala Price led off the bottom of the inning with a single.
But Price was wiped out on another double play started by a line drive — this one to second baseman Rachel Lackey. Brianna Hanson singled, but she ran into a ground ball off the bat of Chandler Green for the third out.
After Green worked her second straight scoreless inning in the fourth, the Lady Panthers finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single by Carlee Henderson and Kessinger’s home run to left. Dale bunched seven hits — including a two-run triple by Jaelin Flewallen and a two-run single by Jade Barnett — in the top of the fifth to score six runs, though, and the game ended on the run rule when Pitchford worked around singles by Crews and Madison Abney to keep Latta off the board in the bottom of the inning.
Kessinger finished with two of Latta’s eight hits, while Dale got at least one hit from every spot in the lineup.
Latta 7, Colbert 2
Colbert’s first two hitters in the bottom of the first innning — Breawna McCraw and Taylor Reeve — singled and scored, but Siera Green didn’t allow a runner past second base the rest of the way.
Latta, meanwhile, took the lead for good in the top of the second inning on a leadoff single by Madison Agney, a walk to Hanson and Chandler Green’s single to right-center, and the Lady Panthers gave Siera Green a little breathing room with a two-run rally in the fourth — despite a baserunning mistake that probably short-circuited a big inning.
In a replay of the second inning, Abney led off with a single (this time an infield hit), Hanson walked and Chandler Green singled. But after stopping at third, Abney tried to score and was an easy out at the plate. Kaitlin Hisaw, the Latta leadoff hitter, followed with a single to center to re-load the bases, and she was safe at second on an error on Makenzi Lamb’s ground ball as Hanson scored the first run in the inning.
Carlee Henderson popped out to shortstop for the second out, but Keeli Kessinger drew a four-pitch walk to force home Green and make it 5-2.
Latta added a run in the sixth on a leadoff single by Hanson and Henderson’s one-out fielder’s choice grounder, and the Lady Panthers scored an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Siera Green — whose one-out single in the first drove in Hisaw (who had led off the game with a single) with the game’s first run — led off with a double to left into the teeth of a stiff wind, then Crews singled and Nicala Price walked to load the bases.
Taylor Whitney, running for Green, was thrown out at the plate on Abney’s ground ball to second, but Hanson followed with a sacrifice fly to score Katie Miller (running for Crews) with the game’s final run.
Latta got two hits apiece from Hisaw, Siera Green, Crews, Abney and Chandler Green, and Hanson was 1-for-1 with two walks, two runs scored and a sacrifice fly as part of a 12-hit attack.
Latta 11, Oktaha 0
Siera Green pitched out of huge james in the first and fourth innings, and the Lady Panthers scored 10 runs in their final three at-bats to blow the game open.
Oktaha (29-11) loaded the bases with one out in the first on singles by Lauryne Dester, Bailey Masterson and Kaitlin Sikes. Kalle King then hit a line drive to third to Price, who caught the ball and dove back to tag the bag just ahead of Dester to complete the double play and end the inning.
In the fourth with Latta leading 8-0, King doubled, Shelby Gamble and Sierra Elima walked to load the bases with nobody out, then Taylor Pevehouse hit a shot back to Green. Instead of taking the out at home, Green threw to first to Kessinger, who recorded the out and fired to the plate to Crews to complete an rare 1-3-2 double play. Kelly Easterling then popped out to Hisaw in shallow left-center to end the inning.
Latta, meanwhile, snapped a scoreless tie with a run in the second on a one-out double by Siera Green, a single by Crews and a fielder’s choice, and the Lady Panthers used a pair of Oktaha errors to score four runs on three hits in the third.
Chandler Green legged out an infield head leading off the third and moved to second on a throwing error, then Lamb and Henderson drew back-to-back one-out walks to load the bases. Kessinger followed with a fly ball that hit near the top of the fence in left-center for a two-run double, Siera Green plated Henderson with a sacrifice fly to left-center and Kessinger scored the final run in the inning on a line-drive single down the left field line by Crews.
Hisaw reached on an error with two outs in the fourth and scored on Lamb’s opposite-field, inside-the-park home run to the wall in right field to make it 7-0. Henderson folowed with a single and scored on consecutive walks to Kessinger (an intentional pass), Siera Green and Crews.
The Lady Panthers pushed across three more runs in the top of the fifth on one-out doubles by Breanna Hanson and Chandler Green, a single by Hisaw, Lamb’s RBI double to right-center and Henderson’s sacrifice fly.
Lamb, Crews and Chandler Green had two hits apiece to key an 11-hit attack from the Lady Pantyers, who got a hit or an RBI from nine of their 10 starters.