Lady Sandite Softball ends season 30-9 with 10-2 loss to Mustang

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The Charles Page High School varsity softball team (30-9) saw their season come to a close at the State Championship quarterfinals in Oklahoma City Thursday afternoon. The Lady Sandites advanced to the State Tournament with their second-straight Regional Championship and met the Mustang Broncos (33-6) for the second-straight year. Last year Sand Springs ended the Broncos' season en route to a State Finals appearance, but this year it would be Mustang with the payback win.

The game started off close enough as both CPHS sophomore pitcher Jacie Taber (11-7) and Mustang junior Kylie Dodson gave up few hits in the first couple of innings, and the score was tied 1-1 till the bottom of the third. That's when things fell apart for the Sandites. 

In the top of the first inning the Sandites landed three runners on base with two hits. Freshman Felicity Horn started the game off with a walk, but was called out on a controversial offensive interference call on a single from Jessica Collins. Horn collided with second baseman Zoey Jones who chased Collins's groundball into the baseline directly in front of Horn. Oklahoma State committed senior Sydney Pennington sent a single into right field on the next play, sending Collins to third. Collins then scored on a groundout from Taber, and the inning came to a close with a groundout from sophomore Elizabeth Luttrell.

Mustang tied things up in the bottom of the inning as MacKenzie Donohoo singled to start, reached third on an error by freshman catcher Sabrina Usher, and tagged up to score on a fly out from Jones.

The Sandites stranded Kimi Presnell in the second on a single, and Horn in the third on a walk, while Taber pitched a no-hitter in the bottom of the second. 

Mustang took the definitive lead in the bottom of the third. Freshman Kayla Mantooth singled and made third on an error that put Anna Hammer on first. Donihoo singled to score Mantooth, Jones flied out, and Audrie Morrison singled to score Hammer.

With Donihoo on third and Morrison on first, Dodson was walked to load the bases. Karis Clark was next to bat and sent a homer over the left field fence for the 7-1 lead. Mustang didn't stop there. 

After Kaitlyn Thomas flied out to Pennington, Amelya Huggins sent a double along the same path as Clark's homer, but it dropped just short of the fence and Horn was quick to hold the runner to second. Mantooth sent a pop fly to Presnell and the disastrous inning was brought to a close.

Sand Springs went into a dry spell on hits after that. Mustang stranded Jones on a double in the fourth and Thomas on a single in the fifth, and the Sandites didn't get on base till the top of the sixth. 

In the top of the sixth Collins flied out in foul territory and Pennington tipped a grounder to the pitcher, but Taber got things back on track with a line drive double to left field. Courtesy runner Makenna Skaggs came home on a right field single from Luttrell to make it 7-2, but Usher grounded out to first to end the offensive.

Mustang added three more runs in the bottom of the inning as Mantooth singled and scored on a double from Jones. Morrison followed it up with a double to score Jones and advanced to third on an illegal pitch. Dodson singled to score Jones and Mustang took the lead 10-2.

The Lady Sandites tried to stage a rally in the top of the seventh and put two on base. Rachel Blair drew a walk and Horn singled, but both were left stranded as Mustang secured their ninth straight win and advanced to play Moore (30-6) in the semifinals. 

Taber gave up twelve hits, eight earned runs, and one walk in the game. This was her first game of the season without a strikeout. The Sandites scattered six hits over the game and reached on two walks. 

The Lady Sandites end the season 30-9 with a fifth place finish at the Broken Arrow Tournament, a third place finish at the Northeastern State University tournament, a Regional Championship, and a second place finish in the district. They will graduate three seniors this year in Sydney Pennington, Rachel Blair, and Jessica Collins.

Lady Sandite Softball will take on Mustang in the State Quarterfinals Thursday

Photo: Scott Emigh

Photo: Scott Emigh

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The Charles Page High School varsity softball team (30-8) is headed to State for the second-straight year after winning their fourteenth Regional Championship last weekend. The District Runner-Up team boasts a long roster of impressive athletes, and is a mostly young team with only three seniors.

The girls will travel to Oklahoma City Thursday and will take on the Mustang Broncos (32-6-1) at 1:30 p.m. on Field 3 of the ASA Hall of Fame Softball Complex. The Sandites and Broncos have yet to meet this year, nor have the Sandites met any of the five teams to beat the Broncos this year. Mustang is, however, undefeated against teams that have beaten the Sandites. They went 1-0 against Jenks, who the Sandites are 1-1 against. They beat Union 5-3 while Sand Springs fell 4-3. They have a win and a tie with Yukon, who the Sandites are 1-1 against. 

A win against Mustang will pit the Sandites against the winner of Owasso (35-3) vs. Moore (29-6). The Sandites have met Owasso only once, on the second gameday of the season, and lost 2-1 in extra innings at the Broken Arrow tournament. Sand Springs has met Moore only once, and dealt them a 4-0 loss at the NSU tournament. The semi final game will be Friday at 2:30, also on Field 3. 

If Sand Springs makes it to the finals, they could play Southmoore (33-2), Union (31-10), Westmoore (28-9), or Yukon (27-6). The Sandites haven't played Southmoore or Westmoore this season. They've met Union once and lost, and split two games with Yukon. The finals will be Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

Last year the Sandites were 29-8 going into the State tournament and were district co-champions after splitting games with Yukon. They ended Mustang (33-9)'s five-game winning streak in the quarterfinals 14-6. In the semifinals they ended Moore (34-5)'s thirteen-game winning streak 5-3, but became the thirteenth-straight win for Choctaw (36-7) 4-3 in the Championship game. 

This year the Sandites have played one more game than last year, but otherwise have a nearly identical record overall. In district play they lost two more games than last year and were district runners-up to Yukon, who they split with. The girls have lost some slugging power in Jessica Schuler (.514 batting), Kennedy "Goose" Salyers (.387), and Kalli Mallory (.351), but have improved defensively with fourteen shutouts this season compared to eight last year. This season they win by an average score of 7-2 compared to last year's 7-3. Their batting has drastically improved from the first half of the season to the latter, as well. In their first nineteen games they surpassed ten hits six times and averaged .291 as a team. In the last nineteen games they surpassed ten hits ten times and averaged .360 as a team. 

Oklahoma State University committed senior Sydney Pennington (6-0) is undefeated on the mound this season, but spends most of her time at short stop where she has had a hand in 5 double plays this season. She currently holds a .549 batting average on 102 at bats this season, with 26 singles, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs, 38 RBI (runs batted in), and 45 runs. Coaches frequently won't even allow their teams to pitch to her, and she has been walked 31 times this season--usually intentionally. She has not been struck out once. She gets on base more than 65% of the time and has 2 stolen bases this season. She has not been caught stealing. At the mound she is equally dangerous with a 1.41 ERA (earned run average) and 1.135 WHIP (walks + hits per innings pitched) on 39.6 innings pitched. She has faced 160 batters this season and has given up 23 hits, 18 walks, 9 runs, and 8 earned runs with 29 strikeouts. She throws 61% strikes and has only thrown 6 wild pitches and hit 4 batters this season. 

Sophomore first baseman Elizabeth Luttrell has been in on 2 double plays this season and is sitting at a .426 batting average on 54 at-bats, with 15 singles, 5 doubles, 3 home runs, 18 RBI, and 19 runs.

Sophomore pitcher, shortstop, and third baseman Madelyn Blair (13-2) holds an impressive record on the mound and has been in on 4 double plays this season. She currently holds a .342 batting average on 117 at-bats with 30 singles, 10 doubles, 4 sacrifices, 32 RBI, and 11 runs. She has stolen 1 base and been caught stealing 1 time. At the mound she holds a 1.41 ERA and 1.198 WHIP on 74.3 innings pitched. She has faced 314 batters this season and has given up 55 hits, 17 walks, 23 runs, 15 earned runs, with 53 strikeouts. She throws 69% strikes and has only thrown 2 wild pitches and hit 17 batters this season.

Freshman courtesy runner Makenna Skaggs has racked up the runs for our pitchers this season while seeing limited action at the plate. She holds a .333 batting average on 12 at-bats with 4 singles, 2 RBI, and 21 runs.

Freshman catcher Sabrina Usher holds a .327 batting average on 104 at-bats this season with 17 singles, 16 doubles, 1 home run, 2 sacrifices, 25 RBI, and 25 runs. She has stolen 1 base, been caught stealing once, and been picked off once. 

Senior outfielder Jessica Collins has seen a lot of action in center field this season and has made numerous wild catches to prevent base hits, and has been involved in 1 double play. She currently holds a .324 batting average on 111 at bats this season with 29 singles, 7 doubles, 18 sacrifices, 22 RBI, and 38 runs. She has stolen 5 bases and only been caught stealing once. 

Freshman outfielder Felicity Horn holds a .297 batting average on 101 at-bats this season, with 22 singles, 6 doubles, 2 triples, 4 sacrifices, 14 RBI, and 32 runs. She has stolen 1 base and been caught stealing once. 

Sophomore pitcher and left fielder Jacie Taber (11-6) holds a .292 batting average on 113 at-bats this season, with 23 singles, 9 doubles, 1 home run, 5 sacrifices, 20 RBI, and 19 runs. She has stolen 3 bases and been caught stealing twice. She holds a 1.38 ERA on the mound with a 1.134 WHIP on 112 innings pitched. She has faced 467 batters this season and has given up only 66 hits, 34 walks, 36 runs, 22 earned runs, with 98 strikeouts. She throws 66% strikes and has only thrown 5 wild pitches and hit 27 batters.

Sophomore second baseman Kimi Presnell has been in on 7 double plays this season and holds a .280 batting average on 107 at-bats, with 24 singles, 6 doubles, 4 sacrifices, 16 RBI, and 22 runs. She has stolen 11 bases and only been caught stealing twice. 

Sophomore third baseman Cameron Clemons has been in on 1 double play this season and holds a .274 batting average on 73 at-bats, with 15 singles, 5 doubles, 9 sacrifices, 17 RBI, and 16 runs. 

Senior outfielder Rachel Blair holds a .176 batting average on 74 at-bats this season, with 11 singles, 2 doubles, 6 sacrifices, 5 RBI and 12 runs. 

Jensen Arnold has seen limited play this season and currently holds a .500 batting average on 10 at-bats with 1 single, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 3 RBI, and 4 runs.

Freshman first baseman Rachel Jones hasn't seen much action this season, but has been in on one double play. She holds a .000 batting average on 4 at-bats. 

Editorial: How the 6A split saved 6A football

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Oklahoma high school football experienced a dramatic and controversial change in the fall of 2013 when the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) announced a split in Class 6A. The 16 highest-enrollment schools would be separated from the lower 16 and each division would play for their own State Title.

The reason for the decision was simple. Population. The current enrollment of Broken Arrow High School is 4,872. The enrollment of Booker T Washington? 1,317. The difference between the top of 6A and the bottom of 6A is greater than the top of 5A and the smallest schools in the State. Schools like BA, Union, Jenks, and Owasso have four times the talent pool to draw from. While the majority of the Hornet starters play both sides of the ball and never get a break, the Redskins have a roster larger than some colleges and have backups for their backups.

Class 6A was created in 1992 and the inaugural Championship was won by Norman. Jenks won it in ’93, Midwest City went back-to-back from ’94-95, and nobody but Jenks or Union has won it since. More often than not, the State Championship game has simply been a rematch between the Backyard Bowl rivals. Since the inception of 6A, Jenks leads the series with 14 titles to Union’s 7, and only 2 other teams have ever won.

Clearly population isn’t the only deciding factor, otherwise Broken Arrow would have won it every year. But there’s no denying the significance it plays. 6A teams were judged by their ability to turn a winning record, not by their ability to win State Titles. That was irrelevant. Nobody won State Titles but Jenks and Union.

In the 22 seasons that Sand Springs played the 6A division, they earned a total record of 98-131 and only managed 7 winning seasons with 7 playoff appearances. In five of those years they were eliminated by top-four-enrollment schools. The other years it was by top-ten schools. Since the 6A split, the Sandites have gone 15-11, made the playoffs both years, and actually won playoff games for the first time since 1997. In 2015, the Sandites made their first State Final appearance since 1966.

While the problems with the 6A split were clear—increased travel, “easier” brackets—the solution has proved to be a game-changer for the 16 schools who now feel like they actually have a legitimate chance. The culture around Sand Springs football has changed, and it’s not an isolated event.

The Class 6A-II conversation begins with two-time reigning State Champions, the Bixby Spartans. Bixby was an annual contender in Class 5A without fail. They weren’t part of the inaugural class of 6A. They didn’t move over until 2010. Prior to that, they had six-straight winning seasons with ten-straight playoff appearances. In their first year of 6A they finished the regular season 5-5, their worst record since 2003, and were eliminated in round one by Jenks. For the next two years they posted losing records and didn’t make the playoffs again till the 6A split. In a single year, the 6A powerhouses had killed the football culture at Bixby. They were lucky that they only had to live through it for four years before the split. In 2014, the Spartans were once again playing teams at their size, and they went 12-1 for their first ever State Title. Their only loss? A season-opening non-conference game against Jenks. Jenks won that one 66-20. The Spartans defended their title in 2015 and are currently ranked number one in 2016. After two straight winning seasons and State Titles, the Spartans challenged Jenks in their season opener and nearly won it, 38-34.

Booker T Washington has always had a culture of winning, with eight State Championships including two recently in 2008 and 2010 at the 5A level. The Hornets only had to play two seasons of 6A football, both ending in first round devastating playoff defeats at the hands of the Big Four. As soon as 6A split, they were back in it with a 7-game winning streak and a 10-2 season in 2014. Last year they went undefeated in the regular season and earned the number one rank before Sand Springs defeated them in the semi-finals. This year the Hornets are laying the foundation to take their program to the next level with College Hall of Fame member Brad Calip taking over as Head Coach and former University of Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship volunteering with the quarterbacks and offensive coaching. The Hornets have stepped up their pre-conference scheduling with 6A No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe and Florida-based private school IMG Academy which is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation with an entire roster of division-I commits.

Bartlesville was part of the first class of 6A, and went 0-10 in the first two years. They didn’t post a winning record till 2002, when they were doubled down on by Union 54-27 in the first round of the playoffs. Their next winning record wouldn’t come till 2008, and that was only due to a forfeiture by Jenks due to OSSAA sanctions. In 2009 they gave it a real run and even defeated Owasso, but still couldn’t fend off Jenks, BA, and Southmoore. In 2010 they had another winning record at 7-4. Their losses were to the Big Four. Since the 6A split they’ve made the playoffs both years and finished last season with only two losses. They held the No. 1 rank briefly after defeating Bixby, before falling to BTW two weeks later.

The success stories continue from there. The evidence is undeniable, the 6A split has saved 6A football. While critics of the sixteen-team bracket call it a JV division, the reality is that the top teams in 6A-II never could compete with the Big Four when they were in 6A, but now they could. Bixby nearly defeated 6A No. 1 Jenks in a pre-conference battle. BTW almost defeated 6A No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe. Sand Springs has begun scheduling real opponents like Arkansas State Champion Pulaski Academy, instead of their past habit of lighting up Nathan Hale, who has lost 37-straight games. Muskogee has brought in 5A State Championship coach Rafe Watkins from Guthrie and is now a real contender for the first time in years. Putnam City West is confidently rebuilding their program after a decade of losing seasons. Sapulpa brought on former Sand Springs Defensive Coordinator Robert Borgstadt as head coach to rebuild their ailing program.

Success breeds success. Is the 16-team bracket the best way to go? Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a full 32 schools the size of BA and we can re-institute the 32-team standard. Maybe we should split all the other classes into 16-team divisions as well. Or maybe we should call Bixby and Jenks Division Champions instead of State Champions and have them play each other for the true 6A State Championship. There’s many things we could try; some could work, and some won’t. But the fact is, 6A football is more competitive than it has ever been, and almost every school in the Class is now vying to be the next big deal. The Big Four monopoly hasn’t been broken, but at least 16 teams now feel like they have a real shot.