By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
It was a hell of a day for the Sand Springs Lady Sandite softball team.
After a 25-7 regular season and a 13-1 district record, it came down to Regionals for Charles Page High School and they got to host their own tournament at the Sandite Sporting Complex in Prattville. By all expectations, the only team that should have given the Sandites any trouble was Union, who had beaten them 5-2 early in the season.
It was a complete surprise when they found themselves with a 2-1 loss in the opening game to a team with a losing record. Claremore moved forward, while the top-seeded Sandites fell to the loser’s bracket. It would be an uphill climb from there. They narrowly fended off Ponca City 4-3, whom they had shut-out run-ruled twice earlier in the season. The Sandites had lost their swag.
It would take either a miracle, or more perseverance than most students will ever muster to overcome the odds stacked against them. The Lady Sandites threw the odds out the window.
After Union dealt Claremore a 6-2 loss the day before, the Lady Sandites had to replay the Lady Zebras to move forward. It was a slow start, but the Sandites found their feet in the top of the third.
Goose Salyers, the pitcher, hit a line drive double into the fence and was soon joined by Stella Millican who drew a walk. Sydney Pennington followed Salyers’s lead with a left field double to score Salyers, but Millican was put out on third by Loren Shockley. With two outs, Jessica Schuler stepped up to the plate and sent Pennington home on a single into right field for a 2-0 lead.
The next inning was even more impressive. Jessica Collins and Caley Thompson both hit singles and Kimi Presnell sacrificed herself to advance them to second and third. Then, Madelyn Blair stepped up with a 2RBI double and was eventually brought home on a single by Salyers.
In the final inning Schuler was hit by a pitch and was replaced on first base by courtesy-runner Carsidy Perdue. Kalli Mallory hit a double to advance Perdue to third, and she was eventually scored on a bunt single by Collins for a final score of 6-0.
The Lady Sandites got the win, but they still had a long road ahead of them. Union was undefeated in a double-elimination tournament, and the Sandites would have to beat them twice in a double-header to win the Regional.
Senior Stella Millican started off the scoring for the Sandites, bunting for a single, and was brought home on a sacrifice fly by Schuler. Next up was Collins with a left field double, batted in by Rachel Blair with a bunt single.
In the fifth inning Salyers and Millican were both put out and it came down to Pennington to get Sand Springs back on track. A left field single put her on base and Schuler followed her with a walk. Catcher Kalli Mallory brought home Pennington with a single and the Sandites won 3-0.
Salyers got the win on the mound against Union.
It was do-or-die in game three. Jessica Shuler and Madelyn Blair elected to “do.”
Schuler and Mallory hit singles and Mallory was replaced by Thompson as a curtesy-runner. Presnell drew a walk to load the bases. With two outs and one strike, Madelyn Blair brought home everyone but herself on a 3RBI Triple into the centerfield fence. Salyers was next up with a double to score Blair and just like that, the Sandites had scored more runs in one inning than they did in the entire first game.
The score remained unchanged until the bottom of the fifth when Pennington hit the first home run of the night over the left field fence. Collins was not far behind her with her own homerun to take things to 6-0.
Union threatened in the top of the sixth as Sammi Dutton hit a single and Lexi Dobson hit a double. After a brief timeout, the Sandites found their motivation and didn’t allow another base hit.
It was clear who the victor would be, but Schuler wanted to put a good measure on Union just to prove to anyone who might doubt that the Sandites are still not a team to mess with. Cameron Clemons hit a single, Salyers hit a single on a full count, and Millican was walked to load the bases. Pennington brought home Clemons on a single for a 7-0 lead and then it was Schuler’s time to shine with a 4RBI Grand Slam to win the game an inning early by run-rule.
Pennington got the start and win on the mound.
From the brink of elimination to the indisputable regional champions, the Lady Sandites improved to a 29-8 record and earned their ticket to the State Championship. This marks their thirteenth regional championship.
Detailed write-ups on each game, including stats and photos, will be up this weekend. Thanks for reading and be sure to tell your friends and family about www.SanditePride.com!
*This article has been corrected to reflect Salyers as the pitcher in the first game against Union and Pennington as the pitcher in game 2.
**This article has been corrected to include a run by Carsidy Perdue in the 7th inning against Claremore for a final score of 6-0.