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September 27, 2013

Tigers capture Clash

NORMAN — On Norman North’s home diamond, it was Norman High getting the last laugh of fast-pitch’s Crosstown Clash series.

About four weeks ago, the Timberwolves claimed victory at Oklahoma’s Marita Hynes Field with timely hitting, sharp-enough defense and strong pitching.

Thursday night on North’s campus, it was the Tigers who received strong pitching from Kylee Warrington, 15 hits, including five doubles, and a defense that committed three errors, though only one that led to a run.

All told, NHS responded from a 3-1 loss to North on Aug. 29 with a 14-2 six-inning run-rule victory that couldn’t have come at a better time in the season.

“I think it’s exactly what we want,” said Marisa Fleck, NHS right fielder, who led the Tigers at the plate, reaching base four times and finishing with three hits, two of them doubles. “A game like this just gets us pumped and ready for regionals and it just shows other teams that we can compete with them.”

In the circle, Warrington, the tough luck loser the first time around between the two programs, allowed seven hits and a lone earned run while striking out four and yielding no free passes.

She said she had seven pitches working — curve, fastball, change up, drop, riser, screwball and one she calls an “inside curve” — yet the best thing about the outing was the Tigers’ victory rather than the one she was credited with in the circle.

“It’s like redemption,” Warrington said. “We lost that (first Clash) game and we had a certain feeling and just needed to win this one.”

Warrington didn’t throw a single pitch without the lead.

The Tigers scored twice in their first turn at the plate, getting a two-run double from Fleck after two Alexis Bell and Heather Jones both reached on errors.

NHS (10-16) tied it up with RBI singles from Michaela Smith in the bottom of the first inning and Peyton Burton in the bottom of the second, but Fleck’s run-scoring single in the third put the Tigers up for good.

It became 4-2 in the fourth inning when Skyler Maga doubled home Mackenzie Gibson and 8-2 after five when Fleck, Gibson and Kiyana Hibbert spearheaded a four-run frame with back-to-back-to-back doubles.

Five more hits and six more runs followed in the top of the sixth inning.

The game ended with Warrington setting down the T-Wolves (11-14) in order in the last half of the sixth inning.

Bell, Hibbert and Maga each drove in two for the Tigers. Eight North errors aided NHS’ cause. Maci Roundtree was the lone North batter to finish with two hits.

The Tigers hope it’s the start of something. At the very least, it was a very good Thursday night.

“It’s been a very tough district,” first-year NHS coach Andrea Harrison said, “and when you compete with Mustang for five innings and when you compete with Edmond North for five or six innings, the kids feel like their almost there but still not good enough … But beating your rival?

“It’s the biggest game of the year for them and to see them so excited, to get out there and love to play softball, it’s the reason why I coach.”

Clay Horning
Follow me @clayhorning

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