David Reeder

Special to the Grove Sun

OAKS- With a cloudy sky loosening the grip of the summer’s heat Tuesday evening, the Oaks Lady Warriors hosted the Kansas Lady Comets and the Lady Longhorns from Inola in a three-way festival format.

And from the start, the visiting teams took up where the heat had left off. In the first contest of the day Oaks took on their bordering rival, Kansas.

A barrage of base hits and a spate of defensive errors sealed the Lady Warriors’ fate early in the opening match. Before the home team could mount any kind of offensive surge the Lady Comets had easily rolled to their 15th win of the season in a run-rule shortened affair. Starting pitcher Paige Fielden got the complete game victory for Kansas.

In game two Inola and Kansas, rated 16th and 12th in 3A, respectively, squared off in what turned out to be the day’s most competitive contest.

Kristin Walker got the starting nod for the Comets, where she pitched around a Jamie Gray single for a scoreless start.

In the bottom of the inning, Hillary Cochran got her first of three hits on the day. But a popup to the second baseman brought the rally possibilities to a close.

Walker kept Inola off of the scoreboard in the top of the second as Kansas got back-to-back-to-back base hits by Amy Rackliff, Courtney Cowan and Barbara Helton, to load the bases with nobody out in the home half of the frame. But that’s where the three runners stayed when the next trio of Lady Comets went down in order.

The Lady Longhorns managed to break the scoring ice with an unearned run in the top of the third. An infield error put the Inola pitcher on second base, where a wild pitch moved her to third and a passed ball put the visitors on the scoreboard.

After a scoreless bottom of the third and top of the fourth, Kansas put up another serious scoring threat when Helton led off with a hustling triple. But, on an ensuing Cowan ground ball, Helton got cut down at the plate on a delayed attempt to sneak across the plate. The Comets were left with a ’what if’ scenario when Makayla Duncan and Shenel Wolfe both ripped potential RBI hits.

Kansas was finally able to get on the board when Helton jacked a line shot over the left field fence, for her third hit of the game, leaving her a double short of hitting for the cycle. With the score knotted at 1 each, the Lady Horns parlayed a pair of walks and three base hits to score three runs in their half of the seventh.

Down by three, Kansas’s Haley Blackwood led off the seventh with a single and moved to third on Inola’s only error of the game.

But on what looked to be a sure RBI off the bat of Cochran turned into a one of those gut-wrenching situations, when something in Blackwood’s knee popped causing her to fall to the ground writhing in pain, several feet shy of home plate. Following the unfortunate incident and probably as a result of it, the Lady Comets never threatened, falling for only the third time this season.

In the evening’s finale, the Lady Warriors had the misfortune of running into a Lady Longhorn team that had found their offense. In their first at bat, Inola sent 10 players to the dish, banged out a half dozen hits and scored five times.

Oaks managed to put a run across in the home half of the second, when Shayla Barnett picked up a lead off walk and moved to third on an Ally Foreman hit. Barnett crossed the plate on a perfect sacrifice by Laurie Osborn.

In the third, Inola used a walk, a pair of singles and passed ball to score another. Following a scoreless fourth, the Lady Horns sent 10 batters to the dish again. And as a result of two walks, an error, two singles and a bases loaded triple, Inola put six more runs on the scoreboard.

Down 12-1, the Lady Warriors needed to score at least two to keep the game going. They were able to score once, but couldn’t push across another for a 12-2 final score.