OKLAHOMA CITY- The Grove Lady Red proved they had one problem solved on Friday afternoon, defeating the defending state champion Lawton MacArthur Lady Highlanders for the second time in two days. Unfortunately, they could not find a solution for McAlester pitcher Taylor Dewberry, falling to the Lady Buffaloes for a second time to end their season.
Dewberry allowed just four hits and struck out seven in the 1-0 win that put McAlester into the championship game against Carl Albert, who defeated Tahlequah 8-3.
“One run was the premium today,” Grove head coach Jeremy Collins said. “I realized it was shaping up that way in about the fourth inning.”
It was in the fourth inning that the Lady Red had their first good chance to score, when Taylor Dodson led off with an infield single, then moved to third on two sacrifice bunts, only to be stranded there.
Grove (31-8) would rally again in the fifth when Kaitlin Threet hit a two-out single to centerfield. Katie Stout then reached base on an error. The next batter, Ashleigh Tramel, hit a fly ball to right field to end the inning.
“She just got under it a little bit,” Collins said. “If that would’ve dropped, it would’ve been big.”
McAlester then followed with their only run in the top of the sixth. LaShaunda Green led off the inning with a single and stole second. Then with two outs and two strikes Alli Eales hit a long double to right field to give the Lady Buffaloes the only run they would need.
The Lady Red would have one final shot in the seventh when senior Shae Scott singled in her final at-bat for Grove. Scott would move to second on a ground out but was stranded their when Dewberry got the final two outs for the win.
“It just didn’t work out today,” Collins said. “[Dewberry] was really good today. She was better today than she was yesterday.”
Dewberry was matched by Grove starting pitcher Jessie Walker, who struck out nine batters and allowed four hits in the game.
“I thought Jessie pitched lights out,” Collins said. “She’s been pitching a lot of games lately and she battled and gave us a chance.”
Despite the loss on Friday, Collins recognized just how special the season had been for the Lady Red.
“We have to be happy with where we’re at. Not everybody gets to come to the state tournament. Not everybody gets down to the final four teams, some teams went down last night. We battled and gave ourselves a chance to win this thing.”
The Lady Red staved off elimination in their first game today when they defeated the Lady Highlanders of Lawton MacArthur for the second time, this time by a score of 4-3.
Grove took the lead in the fourth inning on a double by Andrea Gonzalez that scored Walker for the first run of the game.
But MacArthur, ranked second in the state going into the tournament, would strike right back. Sonora Zukerman would tie the score on a double over Scott in centerfield. Zukerman would later score on a wild pitch to give MacArthur a 2-1 lead.
Scott would get a measure of redemption in the fifth. Grove would start the rally with a pair of walks. Walker then hit a grounder to short, but the low throw to first was dropped, allowing Dodson to score and tie the game at two.
Scott would then follow with an infield single to score Mason Jeffries and a throwing error on the play would score pinch runner Emilee Iverson for a 4-2 lead.
MacArthur would make things interesting in their final at-bats, getting the first two runners on base. With two outs and runners on second and third, an infield single by Macy McKay would score one run, but Courtney Ledford would be thrown out at home by Gonzalez, ending the game.
Thursday’s games: Grove 4, MacArthur 2. McAlester 4, Grove 2.
After avenging a regular season loss to the Lawton MacArthur Lady Highlanders in their opening round game at the Class 5A state softball tournament on Thursday, the Grove Lady Red could not overcome a three-run home run by McAlester’s McKenzie McClendon in the second round, falling into the loser’s bracket with a 4-2 loss to the Lady Buffs at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The Lady Red took the early lead against McAlester, as Ashleigh Tramel and Taylor Dodson hit back-to-back one out doubles in the first inning to score the game’s first run.
Grove doubled its lead in the fourth. Starting pitcher Jessica Walker led off the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second by Shae Scott. Then with two outs Megan Freeman slapped a base hit down the right field line to make the score 2-0.
But the Lady Buffs would begin their comeback in the top of the fifth inning. After back-to-back walks to open the inning, a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt scored McAlester’s Kortnie Morley. Rachel Bernhardt then hit a scorching line drive straight at Scott in centerfield for the second out before a ground out to second base ended the inning.
An error and a walk would put two McAlester baserunners on with two outs in the sixth inning before McClendon, batting in the eight spot, hit a liner to centerfield that just cleared the fence for a three-run home run.
The Lady Red could not score in the fifth and sixth innings despite getting two runs on base in both frames.
“It’s disappointing,” Grove head coach Jeremy Collins said. “I thought we played well. [McAlester] just made plays. [McClendon] just stepped up and got a big hit for them.”
The Lady Red began their day with a measure of revenge. Having loss in extra innings to the second-ranked Lady Highlanders of Lawton Mac in the Hall of Fame Festival at this same location earlier in the year, the Lady Red jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
Freshman shortstop Mason Jeffries showed no rookie nerves in her first-ever plate appearance in the state tournament, blasting a two-run home run in the bottom of the first for a quick 2-0 lead.
Dodson would add to the lead with a solo shot into left centerfield in the third inning.
That would be all the run support Walker would need. Dealing with a tight strike zone, Walker continually wriggled out of trouble. Her most serious situation occured in the second inning. After a double by MacArthur pitcher Lauren Renneker and a walk to Tiffany Freeman, the Lady Highlanders had two runners on and no outs.
But pinch runner Michelle Orange was thrown out at third by senior catcher Katie Stout while trying to advance on a passed ball. After a dropped fly ball in the outfield again put runners on first and second, Stout came through again, throwing out Freeman at third on an attempted steal. Walker would then strike out Courtney Ledford, one of six strikeouts recorded by Walker in the game, to end the inning.
Walker would add Grove’s fourth run in the sixth inning, hitting a bases loaded single to score Kaitlin Threet for a 4-0 lead.
Walker would then find herself in trouble again in the final inning, after a single and two walks loaded the bases.
But Tramel would come through for the Lady Red, catching a line drive and quickly throwing to second for the game-ending double play.