Big Red is headed to state competition this week after clinching the regional title in a dramatic 10th inning win in game seven at home against Blackwell on Friday, Oct. 6. 

This is the first time since 2012 the Lady Red Softball Team will represent Grove at the state championship games for Class 4A.

Lady Red will take the field against Lone Grove at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12, in one of the first round games at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. 

The winner of the Grove/Lone Grove game, will face the winner of the Bethel/Hilldale game at 1:30 p.m. Friday. That pairing meets for the first round game at 4 p.m., Thursday.

On the second half of the bracket, Newcastle will face Perkins-Tryon at 11 a.m., while Tuttle will face Broken Bow at 1:30 p.m.

The winners of those two games, will compete at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Road to State Playoffs

The girls came into the regional playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 5, with their first game against Berryhill beating them 12-2 after seven.

Katie Bunch pitched six of the seven innings relieved by Mikalle Pair.

Lady Red took an early lead in the first with two RBIs followed by three runs in the second and third innings.

Kianna Pellegrino came out with a total of five RBIs for the game followed by Blaise Redus with four.

Berryhill went on to lose against Fort Gibson which knocked them out of the tournament.

Lady Red played Blackwell in their last game on Thursday losing 1-2 knocking them into the loser’s bracket in the double elimination tournament.

In that game, Blackwell took an early lead with a run in the first which was unanswered until the fourth inning by Grove.

Despite the run Blackwell placed one additional run on the board in the fourth as well giving them the one run lead to win the game.

Big Red had six hits for the game with one error as they faced a challenging pitcher with Blackwell who threw 21 first pitch strikes and 13 strikeouts for the game.

In comparison Grove pitcher Bunch threw 17 first pitch strikes and three strikeouts.

Back-to-back games

After the loss to Blackwell, the Lady Red were placed in the position of having to win all three games in Friday’s tournament - a significant disadvantage as the games are played back to back.

The first game Friday was against Fort Gibson who was defeated by Blackwell on Thursday.

Big Red went on to win game against Fort Gibson 5-1 after seven innings.

Megan Tramel got the game started with an RBI in the first during a sacrifice play followed by Pellegrino giving Grove a 2-0 lead.

Fort Gibson answered with a run of their own in the top of the third to bring the game to 2-1 for Grove.

Macee Barnes had the big play of the game with a homerun in the fourth bringing in two runs and cementing the lead at 4-1.

Bunch threw 17 first pitch strikes for the game with a total of five strikeouts.

Facing Blackwell

After their win over Fort Gibson in game five Grove went on the play Blackwell in game 6 of the playoffs getting a 3-0 win after seven innings.

There were no run on the board until the top of the third until Emma Fields got an RBI in the top of the third putting Grove in the lead.

Blackwell was unable to score during the game with Grove getting additional RBIs in the sixth and seventh inning.

Bunch pitched the shutout against Blackwell having thrown 18 first pitch strikes, two strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.29.

Comparatively Blackwell’s pitcher threw 20 first pitch strikes, 5 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.43.

Game seven

After their win Lady Red, lined up to play game seven against Blackwell in the double elimination regional playoffs.

Big Reds game against Blackwell went for 10 innings resulting in a 3-2 victory for the Grove girls.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth inning when Redus brought in Tramel for an RBI giving the girls a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Redus again brings in an RBI for Lady Red for 2-0 lead over Blackwell.

Blackwell scored a run in the bottom of the sixth closing the gap to 2-1 for Grove.

After an additional run in the bottom of the seventh by Blackwell the game went into extra innings.

During the eighth inning, Lady Red pitcher Bunch was substituted by Laken Malone who closed out the inning for no runs giving Bunch a needed breather.

Bunch came back in to pitch the remainder of the game after a short 2/3 inning break due to showing some signs of tiring.

Big Red clenched the game in the 10th inning with the winning run by Tramel, as Bunch kept Blackwell from scoring in the bottom of the inning.

Bunch threw a total of 26 first pitch strikes and six strikeouts against Blackwell compared to 25 first pitch strikes and three strikeouts by Blackwell’s pitcher.

Laken Malone had three first pitch strikes and one strikeout during her time on the pitcher's mound during the eighth inning.  

Lady Red starting pitcher Bunch threw a total of 23 and half innings racking up at least 200 throws on Friday as she pitched in games five, six and seven of the regional playoffs. This is double of what most major league pitchers throw in a single game.

"I'm extremely excited for state," Bunch said, after the game. "I had a feeling we would get [to state] this year."

Bunch credited her teammates for the motivation to get through the playoff games.

Looking at State

The team, who is now 33-9 for their season, will travel and stay in Oklahoma City for the state playoff games.

Games will take place at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium which is where the Women’s College World Series is played.

The best eighth teams from the seven classes will play during the series, in the multi-game, single elimination event.

In Grove's bracket the other teams include Newcastle, Perkins-Tryon, Tuttle, Broken Bow, Bethel, Hilldale and Lone Grove.

Lone Grove, the Lady Red's first opponent, is 28-5 in their season. 

This will be the last time Lady Red Seniors Tramel, Bunch and Lacey Rowe play for the team before leaving to pursue their post high school careers.

Watch www.grandlakenews.com, www.facebook.com/grovesun and Friday's paper for additional coverage of the Lady Red's road to state playoffs.