The day before the state fastpitch tournament began, Southmoore assistant coach Jason Lingo wrote down a to do list on a white chalk board in his office. When head coach Jeff Small came in, he asked if everything on the list had been taken care. It included getting keys to the bus, making phone calls and turning in papers.
Lingo told Small everything was done, except for the last item on the list, which was "Win Gold Ball." After Saturday's performance, Lingo can now check it off.
Southmoore (31-4) rode the arm and bat of Katelyn Brown to a 3-1 win over Moore (34-4) to win the 6A state championship Saturday at the Ballfields in Firelake in Shawnee. While winning the team’s first title was big, getting her first win over the the rival Lions was just as important for Brown.
“It’s very special,” Brown said. “To finally beat Moore and also get a state title is special. I’m just proud of my team. I couldn’t have done it without my team. They played good defense behind me. They fought in the batters box and just did all they could.”
Brown pitched seven innings, allowed four hits and struck out 11 batters to earn her fifth win of the postseason without giving up an earned run. Her performance was the complete opposite of when the two teams met earlier.
“Katelyn was not at her best when we lost to Moore,” Southmoore freshman Sydney Sherrill said. “She had just gotten off a foot injury I think. When she was at her best, we were hitting great tonight.”
However, it was Brown’s bat that caused the biggest uproar early.
Sherrill doubled to center field to lead off the third inning for Southmoore. Brown then came to the plate and blasted a 2-run home run over the left field fence. As she crossed home plate, she was mobbed by her teammates.
“I was just trying to make contact and the ball went,” Brown said. “It was really overwhelming.”
Moore tried to get something started in the fifth when Caitlin Hall blooped a single over Brown’s head. Sierra Crick then beat out a bunt to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Brown worked her magic again. She got Brianna McArthur to fly out to center then struck out Brenique Wright. That left Demi Dobbs to make sure the scoring opportunity didn’t go to waste. Dobbs sent a slow roller to the shortstop who was unable to gather it in. Hall scored to close the gap to 2-1. However, they were unable to do any more damage as Brown pitched her way out of danger.
“We know Katelyn is a great pitcher,” Moore coach Stephanie Riley said. “She has been for the last four years. We knew what her game plan was. We knew she was a dominant pitcher if you allowed her to be. We came out knowing what we were going to do. We kind of deviated from the plan a little bit.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Southmoore’s Sabrina Childers came into the game as a courtesy runner and ended up on third after an errant throw by Moore. Sherrill hit an easy fly ball to left field that Crick dropped. Childers scored and the ’Cats lead was back to two runs.
Moore trailed 3-1 in its final at-bat in the top of the seventh. Brown was three outs away from ending her fastpitch career as a champion, but Moore was going to make her earn it first. Hall and Brianna McArthur both reached base and Dobbs came to the plate as the go-ahead run. She popped it up and second baseman Lindsey Stoeckel made a diving catch to secure the victory for Southmoore.
“I saw it coming,” Stoeckel said. “I knew it was going to be shallow. I really wanted to get the out and get the inning out of the way. I went for it and dove for and got it. It’s really special to me knowing I got the winning out. Just doing it for my team.”
The title was the second championship an athletic team at Southmoore has ever won.
“It means a lot, especially that Katelyn has been here all four years,” Sherrill said. “She has really been our mom to all the freshmen coming in. We have a lot of freshmen on varsity. She’s really helped us play better, be more of a team. When we wanted to give up, she tells us not to. Out their on the field, when they got those two hits, we kind of fell a little bit. She told us not to give up. She said do this for me. And we did.”
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