By BEN JOHNSON
Randee O’Donnell is locked in at the plate now. That proved to be bad news for Poteau on Monday.
Tahlequah’s junior shortstop continued her reign of terror with a bat in her hand, going 4 for 6 with two home runs to lead the Class 6A No. 3 Lady Tigers to a pair of victories (10-2, 7-1) over 6A No. 10 Poteau at Tahlequah’s softball complex.
“It took me awhile to change over to slowpitch from fastpitch,” said O’Donnell, who is 15 of 20 with six home runs and 19 runs batted in during her last six games. “I’m finally getting that down, so I’m learning to not pull everything and just go up the middle.”
Making O’Donnell’s hot streak more impressive is what happened to her on Sunday. During a club fastpitch game, O’Donnell fouled a pitch off her left foot — the same lower-leg area area she injured during Tahlequah’s postseason run in basketball. But O’Donnell, even with a sore wheel, looked in tip-top shape early on against Poteau (19-10).
O’Donnell crushed a pair of two-run home runs in Tahlequah’s victory in the opening game, which ended via the run rule in the sixth inning.
“It’s sore but it’s tolerable,” O’Donnell said of her ankle. “It’s not near as bad as it used to be.”
Eventually, Poteau caught on to O’Donnell’s dominant ways at the plate. With Tahlequah leading the Lady Pirates 8-2 in the sixth inning, Poteau coach Misty Collins opted to intentionally walk O’Donnell, setting up a bases-loaded situation for Kirsten Chase. Tahlequah’s sophomore second baseman then delivered a game-ending, two-run single to center field.
“I just wanted to hit a line drive,” Chase said. “I didn’t want to think too big or hit it out. I just wanted to hit a line drive.”
In the first game, Tahlequah (28-2) prolonged its recent offensive onslaught with 14 hits. Britney Johnson and Chase both tallied three hits apiece with Whitney Wright, Bub Peters and Lindsay Wade each posting one RBI apiece.
Tahlequah led wire to wire after scoring three runs in the first inning.
Poteau ran itself out of a potentially fruitful inning in the second frame with the bases loaded and one out. Melanie Johnson grounded into a double play, thanks to help from her teammate, April Remy, who was credited with runners’ interference at second base.
The Lady Pirates’ only two runs came on sacrifice flies in the third inning. Gabba Wilson and Chelsey Campbell both drove home the runs.
From that point on, though, Poteau only recorded two singles and a walk.
In the second game, Tahlequah scored three runs in the third inning and four in the fourth. In the end, the Lady Tigers collected 12 hits and now have scored 61 runs in their last five games.
“It was a tough day to hit,” Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud said. “There was a hard south wind (blowing in from right field). But we scored 17 runs and they score three. We’ll take it.”
With the win, Tahlequah improved to 18-2 against top-10 teams this season. The Lady Tigers are now also 4-0 against Poteau this season.
“I think we’re playing good right now,” Cloud said. “Poteau is good. There’s no doubt about it, they’re good. In the Muskogee Regional, they’re going to give (Muskogee) all they want. At any given time, they can really play.”
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