David Reeder

Special to the Grove Sun

TAHLEQUAH- Despite falling to Vian in their first game at Lady Indian Field Thursday afternoon in the regional tournament, the Kansas Lady Comets managed to play another day by defeating Stigler in their second contest.  In the day’s earlier first round, the host Tahlequah-Sequoyah knocked off Stigler with in a 9-4 come-from-behind affair.

In the top of the first inning Vian’s starting pitcher, Chelsie Drew, walked the bases full of Lady Comets, but Kansas wasn’t able to take advantage. And in the bottom of the frame, Comet starter Kristin Walker got the Lady Wolverines down in order.

But thanks to a pair of errors on the infield and a two-out triple by Johanna Long, Vian took a 1-0 lead in the home half of the second.

Kansas answered with a run of their own in their next at-bats.  Senior Hilary Cochran cracked the first of her game’s two doubles and came in to score on Amy Rackliff’s long single. 

But in the bottom of the inning, the Kansas defense booted a pair of attempts, leading to three Wolverine hits and four more on the scoreboard.

Courtney Cowan reached base on Vian’s only error of the game and moved to second on a passed ball to lead off the fourth.  Kayla Duncan followed with her second hit of the day, scoring Cowan.  But the Lady Wolverines trumped the tally, when Drew slapped a triple and scored on Malarie England’s RBI single. In the fifth, Cochran belted her second double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Rackliff’s sacrifice fly. But after allowing the Lady Comets to score another in the sixth, Vian used three more hits and another Kansas error to score four more, distancing themselves for a 10-5 victory. 

On the heels of Kansas’s loss, the Lady Comets and Stigler faced off in the tournament’s first elimination game.  Kansas starter Kristin Walker got the Lady Panther side down in order, in the top of the first. 

In the bottom half, Cochran reached base on a two-out single and moved to second on a walk to Rackliff.  Cochran scored her third run of the day on Barb Helton’s RBI single. Walker pitched around errors in the second and third, as her counterpart Laura Hulsey did the same on Cochran’s double in the home half of the third. 

But after committing seven errors on the day, the Lady Comet’s showed they could play defense in the fourth.  And that was thanks to Cochran‘s perfect throw from left field that nailed Stigler‘s Carly Marshall, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. 

Another Kansas error put the Panther’s Chris Copeland on base.  Hulsey followed with a hit that put runners on the corners.  Copeland scored on a subsequent sacrifice by Hulsey.  But the potential go-ahead run got cut down by Cochran’s perfect throw to the plate.

After a scoreless fourth and fifth, the Lady Comets put things away in the home half of the sixth.  Cochran was struck by a pitch to lead off and advanced to second on a wild pitch.  Rackliff moved her to third with a sacrifice and she scored her fourth run of the day as a result of an infield error.  The go-ahead score was followed by a Walker single and a base on balls to Cowan. 

Walker and Cowan came home on back-to-back singles by Duncan and Abby Husong to take a 4-1 lead.  Walker yielded a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but after striking out the next batter, her catcher, Helton got under a pop up against the screen.  Helton fielded the ball, only to drop it and catch it again, before it touched the ground, for the game’s final out.

By eliminating the Lady Panthers by a 4-1 margin, Kansas remained alive to play the loser of the Vian/Tahlequah-Sequoyah game that followed.

After playing to a split on Thursday, the Kansas Lady Comets faced a do-or-die situation in the regional tournament at Lady Indian Field on Friday afternoon.  And by virtue of their loss in game four against Sequoyah, Vian faced off with Kansas again.

In the top of the first Hilary Cochran continued to swing a hot bat as she smacked a single that advanced Kristin Walker, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, to third base.  Amy Rackliff’s RBI single plated Walker and a Wolverine error scored Cochran, for the 2-0 lead.  But that lead would soon go the way of  $2 a gallon gasoline as Vian’s offense banged out a pair of triples and two singles to score three in the home half of the first.

Kayla Duncan led off the second with a single and moved into scoring position on a passed ball.  Abby Husong followed with an RBI single that scored Duncan to tie the game 3-3. Walker traded places with Husong on another fielder’s choice and gave her team the lead, when she scored on yet another RBI extra base hit by Cochran.  Rackliff picked up her second hit and RBI of the game when she drove in Cochran with a long single.  

With the Lady Comets on top 5-3, the two teams locked into a defensive battle for the next four innings.  Kansas was unable to get a runner past first until a wild pitch followed a walk in the top of the sixth.  In the bottom of the frame, the Comet defense helped Walker out of a potentially big rally. 

Following back-to-back singles to lead off the stanza, shortstop Summer Higgins cut down the lead runner at third for the first out. The second out came on Husong’s running catch in right and the third on an easy popup to the catcher. That left an inning to play with Kansas on top by two. Vian pitcher Chelsie Drew got the Lady Comets to go down in order to start the seventh. 

Brook Burke led off the bottom half with a single and was thrown out on a fielder’s choice behind her.  But Kansas committed their only error of the game on a routine fly ball, putting the potential tying run on base.  Leiloni Smith slapped a single that scored Burke.  And with runners on the corners, the Lady Wolverine cleanup batter, Johanna Morris jacked a ‘walkoff’  double in the power alley, scoring the tying and winning runs.

Following their come from behind victory over Kansas, Vian defeated Sequoyah by a 1-0 margin in Game #6, only to fall 9-1 in the tournament final.