NORMAN — It’s been a month and a half since Moore has felt the sting of losing. But even with a 32-2 record, it heads into Thursday’s 6A fastpitch state championships as an underdog.
While squads such as Edmond North, Yukon and Broken Arrow have been called potential championship teams, the Lions have flown under the radar. But coach Stephanie Riley knows something about her team that the rest of the state may not have found out just yet.
“This team does not stress out in tough situations,” Riley said. “They know when it is necessary to press to get the job done, but they don’t stress out. This enables them to stay relaxed and know they can get the job done.”
Moore has gotten the job done every time out since dropping a pair of games in the Southmoore Festival to then No. 1 Owasso and Broken Arrow. Since then they have found ways to win games in every manner possible.
“We lost two games in late August,” Riley said. “The first loss was when Jenna (Lynn) got hurt and the second loss was when she was still out. I talked to the team about my goals for the team and what I feel they are capable of. I think this conversation really showed them what they are capable of themselves. There have been in many games that we were behind, but they are fighters and have always pulled out a win in the end.”
Moore will face Jenks at 11 a.m. in the tournament opener at Hall of Fame Stadium. The championship game is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Lions swept through the regional round with relatively easy wins over Eisenhower and Putnam City North. The coaching staff likes how the team is looking heading into state.
“They are peaking at the right time,” Riley said. “There are a few hitters that are very close to the mark, but they are working hard every day. Jenna is very solid right now and most of our hitters are very consistent.”
Moore has not won a state championship in fastpitch since 2007. Even though they’ve had some solid clubs since then, they have not been able to break through to claim the program’s third title.
But Riley says this club is different. With the pitching of Lynn and the timely hitting of Caiti Hall, Hannah Lynch, Halle Melone and Qiana Harrison, she thinks it can go all the way.
“They have the possibility of winning state this year and I believe they have the heart and passion for the game to get it done,” Riley said. “The team works very well together and they are supportive of each other. There is a sense of accountability with this group. The senior class has great leadership and they are well respected by the underclassmen. If there are any aspects of the game that needs to be tweaked, the seniors generally get it done before the coaches have the opportunity.”
Michael KinneyFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org