Next up, Warrington laid down a should-have-been squeeze, but Hutchinson was on the ball so fast that Ciara Longman froze at third. Hutchinson repeated the trick after Morgan Epperson bunted, getting the ball home so quickly that Longman turned around and headed back to third. Catcher Michaela Smith’s throw to shortstop Kenzie Jones beat her there for the second out. When Burton got Bell to ground out, the inning was over.
“We brought intensity,” Hutchinson said.
North’s two fifth-inning runs, with some help from the Tigers, came on a bases-clearing bunt from Burton.
Maddie Morris reached on an infield single before Burton laid down the bunt. Fleck, charging from third base, fielded, but threw high and wide into foul territory alongside right field. When Hoahwah failed to pick the ball up cleanly, Burton headed home, beating a throw in the dirt.
North added an insurance run in the seventh when Jones doubled home Blakeleigh Carwile.
“I thought I did a pretty good job working my spots,” said Burton, who survived six hits and two errors to yield the single run. “I thought my defense was outstanding. They stuck with me the entire game.”
For the Tigers and first-year coach Andrea Harrison, it was a narrow loss with a lesson attached.
“I think it’s the butterflies and playing out here (on OU’s diamond),” she said, explaining some, but not all, of her squad’s glove woes. “But we have to work on our defense.”
NHS fell to 3-7. North pulled even at 5-5.
“I like the potential of these girls,” Hamilton said.
Follow me @clayhorning