By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Southmoore slowpitch softball has gotten off to a blazing start to the season. After sweeping Putnam City North in a pair of games Monday, the SaberCats moved to 11-0 on the season and are ranked No. 2 in the state.
“I think the key to our successful start has been contributions from everyone in our lineup,” Southmoore coach Jason Lingo said. “We’ve gotten solid, consistent hits from everyone, and lots of kids are coming up with key hits in big situations. And our defense and pitching has been very good, as we had expected. So when you put those things together, it creates a successful situation.”
The ’Cats came into the year knowing they had the talent to do something special. Southmoore’s fastpitch team had won the state title during the fall and most of the players from that squad are on the slowpitch roster.
“Coming off a fall state championship, our expectations were high for ourselves,” Lingo said. “We know we are capable of playing at a high level, we just have to continue to put in the daily work and hope to catch a few breaks along the way.”
But Lingo is quick to add the team doesn’t feel it’s at a point it can take shortcuts.
“We aren’t content with our success at all,” Lingo said. “Our girls are hungry for more hardware. I think the success they tasted in the fall has fueled them to really work hard and drive for another gold trophy this spring. They are aware that hasn’t happened in quite a while, so they want be the ones who end that.”
Southmoore has been relying on a variety of players in the early going.
“We’re putting up some solid team numbers, but sophomore Arielle James and freshman Lindsey Stoeckel have really started out hot for us,” Lingo said. “Both kids are focused at the plate and being patient, and it’s paying off in their success.”
Southmoore will join No. 4 Moore and No. 5 Westmoore this weekend in hosting the annual Big Cat Classic. The two-day tournament starts Friday and will feature top-level teams from around the state, such as No. 3 Muskogee, No. 6 Union, No. 8 Tecumseh, No. 9 Jenks, Norman High and No. 1 Bethel (5A).
“Our Big Cat Classic is one of the toughest tournaments in the state,” Lingo said. “There are great teams from all of the top classes in the field. It’s a real chance for us to see where we’re truly at with our competition. The state championship won’t be won this weekend, but it’ll give all of the teams entered in the Classic a chance to measure up and see where we can be successful and where we need to keep working.”
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