OKLAHOMA CITY — When it matters most, nothing ever comes easily for Little Axe. Also, the Indians don’t lose.
For almost three years.
Thursday evening at the Class 3A state fast-pitch tournament it was freshman Aubree Branch who played the hero.
She almost played it in the sixth-inning when her one-out double put the Indians into position to push the winning run across.
Then she really played it in the bottom of the eighth when her single down the right-field line plated Julia Scott, handing the Indians a 2-1 victory over Chelsea at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium complex.
The other hero?
That was pitcher Andee Frazier, for whom Scott was running. Officially, Frazier reached on a fielder’s choice because Aspen Vail was hung up between first and second base and was thrown out after Frazier’s bloop found a home in short-right field.
Really, Frazier had already earned her status by setting down 13 straight Dragons, even with a sore arm, still recovering from pitching three regional games Tuesday.
“I may have been a little sore,” the senior hurler said. “I may not have been 110 percent, but I was at least 100 percent.”
The Dragons will vouch for that. Frazier retired 11 on strikes.
“She’s able to adjust,” Bread said of Frazier, who got by on a curve, screwball, riser and the occasional changeup. “She’s able to put us in situations where we can actually throw to a spot.”
Branch wasn’t new to coming up big for her team, but maybe new to talking about it. What was she thinking at the plate after Reagan McDoulett followed Frazier with a single?
“Just have to get it done,” she said. “I just had to close my eyes and get it done.”
Did she have a feeling something good would happen, because the Indians always seem to win tight games at the state tournament?
“I’m not good at this,” she said.
She was plenty good in the batter’s box.
No Dragon had more than one hit. Nor did any Indian other than Branch, who had three. Bread knew he had a good player when she arrived in the program, but wished she could learn to hit to all fields. Lately, she has.
“She’s been doing that for two weeks,” he said.
Chelsea got on the board first when Hunter Marone singled in the third inning, went to second base on a wild pitch and came home on Bethyne Lewis’ single.
Little Axe tied it up in the bottom half of the inning, loading the bases with one out via a hit from Kenna Watson, a walk to Sammi Leisinger and Aspen Vail’s mishandled grounder to third base. Next up, Frazier grounded to third. The throw home nabbed Watson, but catcher Darian Marone threw wild to first trying to get Frazier, allowing Leisinger to score.
Familiar foes: Little Axe’s victory sets up a Transcript-area semifinal between the Indians and Washington, which dispatched Sulphur 8-6 in Thursday’s early game.
Sulphur made it interesting with three seventh-inning runs, but that wasn’t enough to counter 12 Warrior hits and 10 walks. The Warriors put their eight runs across while stranding 16 runners, a fact that did not please Washington coach Scott Howard.
“Not acceptable,” he said.
The Indians and Warriors meet at 10 this morning. The two teams split a pair of 5-0 decisions earlier this season.
“We’ve got a pretty good rivalry going with them,” Howard said.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org