October 12, 2012

Lady Chicks one game away from title

Aaron Colen, Sports Editor,
The Express-Star

OKLAHOMA CITY — Chickasha was in control for the majority of Friday's state semifinals game against Deer Creek, and pulled out the win despite a late burst by the Lady Antlers.

The Lady Chicks advanced to the state championship game with a 7-5 win which came into a little doubt in the seventh inning.

"I think we maybe got a little nervous and lost it there," head coach Dennis Furr said. "A couple routine plays, we gave them some life on that play but it's going to happen here. We're just glad we had as big a lead as we did."

Chickasha came out aggressive in the game, which started under a misting rain that seemed to adversely affect the Antlers, but not the Chicks.

"We talked the whole game about being tougher than them and grinding it out and being able to perform in big situations," Furr said. "We've talked all week that there  are going to be ups and downs, and the teams that deal with the roller coaster the best are the ones that win the close games."

The Lady Chicks scored three runs in the first frame. Kieley Clift scored the first run of the game when Amanda Bradford was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Tori Smith got on base, and Kelsey Lacefield eventually scored as a courtesy runner on a Deer Creek wild pitch.

Bradford scored the final run of the inning on a Brooklin Burns single.

Both Clift and Smith reached base on bunts, and the aggressive plays forced Deer Creek into some mistakes early on.

In the second inning, Kelsi Gore got on base with a single, and scored when Smith reached base on an error.

Chickasha scored two more runs in the third inning, one on an RBI bunt by Burns and one on an error by the Deer Creek catcher.

Burns finished the game 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and also made some good defensive plays from third base.

"We calmed down and we went out there and played our hardest, and that's when it matters," Burns said.

Deer Creek finally responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with one run scored on a double-steal.

In the bottom of the seventh, with the Chicks three outs away from the state finals, Deer Creek made a last-ditch effort to come back that got dangerously close to succeeding.

Their lead-off batter reached first base when Madison Snyder and Gore got tangled up on an infield fly ball that fell to the ground.

The Antlers then got a couple of singles and scored the first run of the inning on a fielder's choice. The next batter hit an RBI single, before Deer Creek got a two-run triple to pull within two runs with two outs on the board.

Gore and the Lady Chicks stayed composed through the bumpy inning, and Gore ended it with a strikeout.

"We maybe got a little tight there at the end of the game, but [Gore] has thrown a lot of pitches over the last two days and she did a great job," Furr said. "She's a really tough kid and works really hard."

Burns said she thinks the team has raised its level of effort from the regular season to the postseason.

"We're playing a lot harder than we did this season," Burns said. "During the season, we didn't have as much competition, and now that we've made it this far, we're stepping it up and doing good."

The Lady Chicks are scheduled to face Grove in the state championship game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City on field 1.