By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs Lady Sandites stayed alive in round two of the Regional playoffs—barely. After a shocking upset by the Claremore Zebras, Sand Springs found themselves on the same tier as a team they had already shut out twice this season. The Ponca City Lady Cats wouldn’t make it a third time. Union had little problem shutting them out 5-0 in round one, but the Wildcats came out swinging in round two and barely gave up the game to Sand Springs 4-3, and it came down to the final inning.
Charles Page has had a lackluster last couple of games, and that streak continued over into this one. After trailing for three innings, they finally came from behind to win it in the bottom of the seventh.
It should never have been that close. In the fourth game of the season, Sand Springs shut out Ponca 10-0 at home. Last month, the Lady Sandites brought an even tougher game to the Wildcats’ home and brought back an 11-0 win. 21-0 over two games, and they won this one by one blessed run.
Goose Salyers got the win on the mound for Sand Springs, allowing only one earned run and twelve hits against five strikeouts and a .468 strike percentage. Ashlynn Mercer got the loss for Ponca, also allowing twelve hits with two earned runs against only two strike outs and a .325 strike percentage.
Ponca pulled off a better batting average, but one thing was clear. When Sandites swing, they swing for the fence. Ten of Ponca’s hits were singles, whereas nine of Sand Springs’s were doubles. Only two Sandites struck out, two hit sacrifices, and two were walked, so the home team ended up with a much better on-base percentage of .424 against the Wildcats’ .375.
Just like in the first game, it was clear who the better team was. Yet for some reason, the stats weren’t translating well to the field.
It didn’t start out looking as bleak as it ended. The Lady Sandites emerged to an early lead in the first inning as Sydney Pennington brought in Salyers on a double that hit the fence. Schuler was right behind her with a double of her own, but their momentum was broken up as Schuler’s ball collided with left fielder Kylie Hopkins’s face. After several minutes of lying on the ground, she left the field on her own feet, but was replaced for the duration of the game by Bailee Johnson.
It was an unfortunate incident for both teams, as it was enough to break up the Sandite momentum and leave both Pennington and Schuler stranded.
The game entered a dry spell and the score didn’t change until the bottom of the third when Kenzie Lyons hit a right field single and Camenda Osborne scored on it due to an error by catcher Kali Mallory.
Then, the cats took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning on a run from the same player. Osborne hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a single by Karly Kothe before being batted in once again by Lyons.
By the seventh inning, things were dire and the Sandite offense was under serious pressure. Not only did they trail by two, but they were playing as the guests so they had to score enough runs to keep the Wildcats from winning it in the bottom of the inning.
Pennington came out swinging, hitting a leadoff double into the fence. Kali Mallory hit a groundball double and scored Pennington on an error by catcher Samantha Murry. Mallory was replaced by curtesy runner Cameron Clemons, and it was a great call. Caley Thompson entered the game for the first time that night and hit a single. With Stella Millican at bat, Clemons was quick on her feet, stealing home plate on a catcher’s error. All Millican had to do was hit a sacrifice groundball to score Thompson, who had just stolen second, and just like that the Sandites had the lead once again.
Salyers allowed only one hit in the bottom of the inning and the Sandites won 4-3.
The girls are going to need to find their mojo quickly if they’re going to pull off some Sandite magic tomorrow. It will be a long hard uphill road. The Union Redskins beat Claremore 6-2, meaning Sand Springs will have a rematch at noon.
If Sand Springs proves the first game against Claremore to be a fluke, they’ll still have to beat Union not just once, but twice. The tournament is double elimination, so for Sand Springs to win it’ll be a triple header with no time to rest between rounds. If Sand Springs wins, the first game against Union will be at 2 PM, and the second would be at 4 PM. Not to mention that the last time Sand Springs played Union was coincidentally at the Claremore Festival and was a 5-2 loss.
It’ll be a rough road to State, but these girls are 26-8 for a reason. They’ve outscored their opponents 239 to 92 this season and went 13-1 in district. If anybody can pull it off, the Sand Springs Lady Sandites can.