It is not the Big House, but the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium complex, where who knew there were four diamonds out here, if all you’d ever seen was Women’s College World Series or the World Cup of Softball.
Thursday began an arguably smaller event. Merely the aptly named Oklahoma High School Fast-Pitch Championships, where they play for state supremacy rather than national championships or world titles.
Even if it seemed bigger.
The parking lot was full like the WCWS. The sounds were similar, the balls were that same glowing yellow, but the roars came from everywhere. The very best place to be amongst it all was along the walkway parallel to the main field’s third baseline. Walk far enough and you’re surrounded by diamonds, roars coming from every direction.
Take in a few games and you might notice a couple Transcript-area schools are playing some great softball, with a couple still vying to win it all.
n Feel like adopting a team? Go with Little Axe.
The program built by coach Mike Bread, as well as his wife, assistant coach and Norman High Wall of Famer Dina, is the favorite to win the Class 4A title.
The Indians entered the No. 2 seed, but No. 1 Blanchard, coached by ex-Sooner Kristin Vesely, came up short, dropping a 1-0 decision to Newcastle.
Little Axe is here for a fourth-straight season, but Thursday’s 6-0 beatdown over Sequoyah-Claremore was its first state tourney victory since the program began making the annual trip.
This team, apparently, is different.
“This is the first team that we’ve had that’s really come together, that really wants to compete together,” Bread said.
The Indians received dominant pitching from sophomore Andee Frazier, while much of the lineup swung a hot bat.
The offense was led by senior shortstop Peyton Watson, who was 2 for 3 from the leadoff spot, before capping the victory with her fifth home run of the season, a line shot over left-center field that took about a second to leave the park.
Lacey Williams, who had two hits, might have been the best athlete on the field, even with a brace on each leg, the result of two different ACL tears suffered on the basketball court.
Amanda Edmunson, who, like Williams, has seven home runs this season, also added two hits.
The Indians have plenty of support from the Little Axe community, but anybody in search of a good story can be waiting on Field 4 at 2 p.m. today.
n None of the above is meant to shortchange Washington, which remains alive in the Class 3A draw following Thursday’s 6-1 victory over Morris. The Warriors are always here.
They’ve been to every fast-pitch state tourney since 1999. They won it all that season, the next one, again in 2005 and again in 2007.
They may win a fifth state title in 12 seasons if pitcher Lacey Paulk keeps dealing the way she dealt Thursday, when she allowed a hit and a single run in the first inning, but two more hits, and just three more base runners, over the next six innings.
Even if she ran away from taking credit.
“I have a great defense behind me,” Paulk said. “If it’s on the ground or in the air, they’re going to make a play on it.”
Paulk helped herself with five strikeouts. At the plate, she was the only Warrior to not reach base. Yet if just that pattern persists, the Warriors will likely win their fifth state title.
n Purcell rolled snake eyes.
Ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and looking for their first fast-pitch state championship since 2004, Bethel prevailed upon the Dragons 4-0.
But isn’t that a lesson? Amid the pressure and drama of a state tourney, anything can happen.
Bethel meets Washington 2 p.m today.
So come for the local teams or come for the game.
It’s not the Big House.
But it’s a lot of fun.
Clay Horning 366-3526 email@example.com