By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY — After playing in almost 35 games this year, Moore’s season has come down to three games in three days. In order to claim the top prize in fastpitch, the Lions have to win every single time they step on the field.
The Lions got themselves off to a good start Thursday with a 5-0 shutout against Jenks in the first round of the 6A state championships at Hall of Fame Stadium.
“This is the ninth time in a row we have been to the state games,” Moore coach Stephanie Riley said, “but we have not been past the first game in the last four or five years. So we’ve concentrated all week on Thursday. We will move to Friday after we deal with Thursday. We are definitely ready to compete. But we knew we had to get through today first.”
The Lions’ next step takes place at noon today when it faces Broken Arrow in the semifinals. Moore beat BA 1-0 earlier this season. But this time the winner advances to state while the loser heads home.
Moore (33-2) doesn’t have the big bats it used to build its team around. It’s transformed itself this year into a small ball squad. That was the formula it used to attack the Trojans early in Thursday’s contest.
With Caiti Hall on second, Caitlin Hall doubled to center off the Trojans’ McKayla Hendrix to drive home the game’s first run in the top of the third inning.
“We are a small ball, defensive team,” senior Hannah Lynch said. “But we have some bats in the lineup as well. It just depends on the day. It means we don’t have to rely on one thing. If something is working, we’re going to stick with it, if not, we will try something else.”
Jenks tried to respond in the bottom of the inning when it got a runner on first and second with only one out. But Jenna Lynn buckled down and struck out Paige Luellen and got Macklin Hitz to ground out and end the inning.
Moore kept the pressure up in the fourth when they put two runners on base for Qiana Harrison. The senior bunted and Jenks threw the ball over the first baseman’s head allowing pinch runners Ericka Alcantar and Kynzie Zellner to score.
Moore headed into the bottom of the fourth with a 3-0 advantage.
Jenks had a chance to cut into the lead when they put two runners on with no outs. But once gain Lynn was called upon to put out the fire. She fanned Audrey Estes, got Tristen Kuhn to pop up and then struck out Kenzie Carpenter in order. It was the last time the Trojans would threaten. Defense by Brianna McArthur, Tianna Gutierrez and Harrison kept the Trojans from making any type of run the rest of the afternoon.
“Jenna did really, really well,” Riley said. “She stayed very poised. She only gave up three hits and they couldn’t get anything together to get a rally. She is definitely the pinnacle of our team.”
But the Lions weren’t done. In the seventh sophomore Kristen Prieto and senior Jazmine White drove home two more runs to put the game away.
“I think it was a really good performance,” Lynch said. “We showed our heart and we showed our focus as well and what we can do throughout the rest of the tournament, hopefully.”
Tuttle 3, Purcell 1: After racking up 30 wins, the sixth ranked Dragons saw their season come to an end in the first round of the state tourney.
Purcell (30-10) had beaten No. 3 Tuttle earlier in the year by a score of 2-1. But this time they were unable to get their bats going or shut down the Tigers offense.
Michael KinneyFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.