By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman North’s pitchers had a hard time finding the plate and when they did, Norman High’s hitters had no trouble finding the ball.
Add it all up and the Tigers claimed the spring’s first Crosstown Clash, 19-8, on the slowpitch diamond.
Based upon his team’s scrimmages, NHS skipper Tim Gonzales actually thought his offense was lagging behind his defense, but that’s not the way it turned out Tuesday night.
The Tigers received plenty of help from North, as both Hailey Swopes and Jenna Duvall struggled to find the plate, issuing 13 walks. But when they got their pitch, they cut loose, collecting 13 hits, four for extra bases, all in a span of five innings.
The lone senior in the lineup, Yahna Bender, hit leadoff like she was in the three-hole, going 3 for 5 with six RBIs, lashing a single, double and a triple. The double came last, to the center field wall, knocking home a couple teammates to establish the run-rule margin.
“We can hit with anybody as long as we get good pitches and are picky about them,” Bender said. “To win big against North, it tells us we’re capable of beating any team.”
The Tigers might learn the truth of that statement very shortly. Friday and Saturday, along with North and Moore, NHS is at Tulsa Union’s tournament.
Tiger pitcher Kiyanna Hibbert issued two free passes and her fielders committed a quartet of errors, but they survived and then some thanks to two huge innings.
The Tigers sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning and, after netting a single run in the third, sent 14 to the plate in the fourth, collecting eight more runs.
North coach Beth Freihofer gave NHS some of the credit for her pitcher’s struggle.
“We didn’t take advantage (of their pitching). We went after the first pitch,” she said. “We didn’t wait for good pitches. They made us throw strikes.”
Also for NHS, Hibbert went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, Michaela Hardin went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI and Ciara Longman went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
For North, which led 6-1 after a five-run top-of-the-second-inning, Desiree Hutchinson went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and Katelyn Dollard went 2 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
Last spring, the Tigers graduated seven seniors. Gonzales entered the season believing he has a talented squad, but also that a lot of meshing will have to take place.
“We have a high ceiling. We have a lot of talent,” he said. “Once we put the pieces together, I think we can do some really good things.”
At the plate, at least, on a cold and windy evening at the NHS softball complex, the Tigers did some very good things and won going away.
Follow me @clayhorning
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