By BEN JOHNSON
There was very little shock when the news came out early Friday afternoon. But it’s always music to Matt Cloud’s ears when he finds out his team will host a slowpitch regional tournament.
Postseason pairings for Class 6A were released by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association on Friday, with Tahlequah being one of eight host sites. Stilwell, Fort Gibson and Sallisaw will be the other three teams at the Tahlequah Regional, which has yet to officially set a date.
“It’s the reward of the labor that the kids have put in from January to now,” Cloud said of hosting a regional tournament. “...The kids have put themselves in a good situation. We’re playing really good right now.”
Other 6A regional sites include Moore, Westmoore, Tecumseh, Muskogee, Putnam City, Union and Broken Arrow. Muskogee will host Bixby, Broken Bow and Poteau.
As for Tahlequah — which is ranked third in 6A and now owns a 26-2 record after three easy victories on Friday — a regional championship would translate into Tahlequah’s 21 straight trip to the state tournament.
“I feel more pressure in the slowpitch deal than I do fastpitch,” Cloud said. “But I think any coach in the country would want that pressure to get back.”
Entering regional play, Tahlequah will have played games against Stilwell and Fort Gibson. The Lady Tigers beat Stilwell 7-2 on April 4, and the two teams are slated to meet again at Tahlequah on April 22. Tahlequah, after getting rained out against Fort Gibson on April 2, is scheduled to challenge Fort Gibson at home on April 19.
“On any given day, this sport changes so quick,” Cloud said. “You can be really hot and drop in one day. Or you can be cold and then be hot the next day in slowpitch.
“Stilwell has gotten better and Fort Gibson isn’t bad, and I don’t really know anything about Sallisaw to this point. I don’t think, at this point, we’re good enough to overlook anybody to get to the City (Oklahoma City) on May 1.”
Taking opponents for granted wasn’t a problem on Friday with Tahlequah pulverizing Kellyville, Haskell and 5A No. 4 Henryetta by a combined score of 44-5.
Against Kellyville, Tahlequah’s Randee O’Donnell hit three home runs, including a game-ending grand slam. O’Donnell finished the game with eight runs batted in.
In the Haskell game, every Tahlequah player in the lineup had a hit. Whitney Wright hit her second home run of the day, and Kortney Dry was 3 for 3 with two doubles. Every Tahlequah player also had a hit against Henryetta, while O’Donnell hit another home run and Dry went 3 for 3 with two runs driven in.
The Lady Tigers have now won 11 straight games will host 6A No. 10 Poteau at home on Monday.
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