October 17, 2013

Tahlequah ends Chicks state title bid

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


A season of high expectations came to a halt for Chickasha when a home run by Tahlequah in the final inning sent them out of the state tournament they were so hungry to win.

It was almost too much to take for the Lady Chicks, who ended up on the wrong end of a 5-2 decision in a must-win game. Lady Tigers pitcher Morgan Tarrance and her fielders held Chickasha scoreless for five innings --  and hitless for the final three innings -- while slowly clawing their way back on the offensive side of the ball. A three-run home run by Randee Odonnell, on a night when all the RBI belonged to her, was the deciding factor.

"They put together better at bats than us," head coach Dennis Furr said. "They swung the bat better than us, and that's basically what it boiled down to. We didn't have very many hits tonight, and we were up there pressing trying to do too much."

The game actually started brightly for Chickasha. They caught Tahlequah out on a 6-4-3 double play in the first inning and opened the scoring in the second. After Amanda Bradford reached first on a walk, she stole second and reached third when the ball flew over the second baseman's head. Senior Tori Smith then stepped up to bring her across home plate.

Smith then came in to score herself off the bat of fellow senior Madison Snyder, and it looked like Chickasha might start to take control of the game. The Lady Tigers had other ideas.

Odonnell got Tahlequah on the board in the top of the third, this time on an RBI single to bring in leadoff Marisa Girdner. Later, Odonnell was caught stealing and a simple out at first left the Lady Tigers with one on base but nothing more to show.

The Lady Chicks were shut down in the bottom of the third, and Tahlequah threatened to equalize immediately. With the tying run on base, Chickasha pitcher Kelsi Gore got a vital strikeout for the third out to preserve the lead. The following at bat, Gore was back at it with a leadoff single. The momentum didn't last long when pinch runner Jaycie Brown was called out trying to steal second, but the call was questionable and could have easily gone the other way.

Odonnell popped up again to tie the game in the top of the fifth. Her sacrifice fly brought in Caitlin Chuculate to make the score 2-2. Another three-up-three-down for Chickasha meant the game would be decided late.

With Girdner and Whitney Wright on base, Odonnell dealt the hammer blow. She crushed a shot to deep center that flew over the fence and broke those hearts in the crowd that bled purple.

"You just encourage them about what a good year we've had," Furr said about talking to the players after such a loss. "We've got to grow and be a little bit better next year. We came in with high expectations, but when you get to this level and you don't perform you're going to lose, no matter what. We didn't play our best softball tonight."