Jeff Cali Sports Editor
The Ada News
Oklahoma City —
If every inning was the fourth, the Stonewall Lady Longhorns would have been in good shape at the Class 2A State Tournament Wednesday at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
The sixth-ranked Lady Longhorns scored three runs in the top of the fourth and held off No. 4 Sentinel 3-2 during a tense first-round victory.
Then, in a semifinal matchup with top-ranked Fort Cobb-Broxton, Brittany Gipson crushed a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to trim a 4-0 deficit to 4-3. But the high-powered Lady Mustangs bunched together seven hits and took advantage of two Stonewall errors in a six-run outburst in the top of the seventh to knock out the Lady Longhorns 10-3.
Stonewall finished its season 26-12 while Fort Cobb, the eventual Class 2A state champion, finished its stellar season at 34-2. The Lady Mustangs, who won 11 straight games to end the season, lost only to Binger-Oney (twice) during the regular season.
“We had a heckuva year for our seniors. They couldn’t have asked for very much more. We had a great season, this just isn’t where we wanted it to end. We wanted to be in the next game no matter what happened,” said Stonewall head coach Christie Jennings.
Fort Cobb-Broxton 10, Stonewall 3
Kimberly Helms got Stonewall started in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff single and after a fielder’s choice by Bradianne Daniel, Cheyanne Miller singled to put runners at fist and second. Gipson then belted the first pitch she saw from Fort Cobb pitcher Jennifer Johnson over the fence in left field to get Stonewall within 4-3.
Stonewall missed a golden scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. Haley Snell led off by reaching on an error and moved to second on a groundout. Allie Denson then lined a single to center and Snell tried to score on the play. She was caught in a long rundown between third and home, but was finally caught despite Fort Cobb catcher Ashley DeVaughan dropping the ball during the chase. Jordan Pharr followed with a lazy fly ball to center (that would have likely scored Snell from third) for the final out of the inning.
“We had some chances we didn’t take advantage of. We played well enough to stay in it until the seventh,” Jennings said. “When you make mistakes, sooner or later they are going to make you pay for them with base hits and that’s kinda of what happened.”
The Lady Mustangs bunched together seven of their 17 hits in their big seventh-ininng outburst — including four straight to end the volley. Pinch-hitter Massie Sawyer delivered the biggest blow for Fort Cobb, blasting a bases-loaded double that got past York in left-center to drive in the Lady Mustangs' final three runs.
“Fort Cobb is really good. There’s a reason they’ve been ranked No. 1 all year,” Jennings said.
The Lady Mustangs got four hits in the top of the first, but could only push across a single run via and RBI single by Sydney DeVaughan.
Fort Cobb stretched its lead to 4-0 with three runs in the third with the aid of Stonewall’s only two errors of the contest and three more base hits — including an RBI single by Ashton Lierle, who finished with three hits. Cheyenne Pierce also had three hits for the Lady Mustangs.
York was the only Stonewall player with more than one hit, finishing 2-for-3.
Stonewall 3, Sentinel 2
The Lady Longhorns, who didn’t get a hit the first time though the batting order, again got all of their runs in the fourth.
With Sentinel leading 1-0, Helms gave Stonewall an immediate boost when she blistered a shot down the right field line that skipped past defender Hailie Ard and rolled all the way to the fence. Helms motored around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to knot the score a 1-1.
Cheyanne Miller, Gipson, Lydnsay Daffern and Kaitlinn Wright hit consecutive one-out singles to produce the final two Stonewall run and put the locals on top 3-1.
The Lady Bulldogs scored a single run in the sixth thanks to a pair of walks and single by Taryn Brown and Tancy Williams, but Pharr — Stonewall’s pitcher — got Ard to ground out to Daniel at second (who rushed to her left and made a nice play to keep the ball from heading to right field for a single) with the bases loaded to get her team out of the jam.
Sentinel scored a run in the bottom of the first when Daci Aldridge led off with a walk and Harli Ridling hit an RBI double to the gap in left-center. With runners at first and third and two outs, Stonewall center fielder Snell made a nice diving catch of a sinking fly ball off the bat of Taryn Brown that saved at least one run.
“That play was unbelievable. I think she caught it off her shoes,” Jennings said.
Sentinel squashed a Stonewall uprising in the top of the sixth by turning a rare triple play. Miller walked and Gipson singled behind her. Miller then advanced from second to third on a fly ball to center by Daffern, but Gipson was thrown out trying to go to second. Miller then raced toward home on the throw to second, but she was gunned down for the third out of the inning.
“We made a couple of base-running mistakes that would have probably given us some insurance runs, but our defense was spectacular at times. We missed a couple of routine plays that would have made it less exciting, but we found a way to win and that’s the biggest thing up here,” Jennings said.