By SEAN ROWLEY
With a berth in the 5A Fast Pitch Softball State Tournament at stake, Tahlequah High School plays host to the Regional 6 Tournament on Thursday and Friday at the softball field on North Moccasin Avenue.
The tournament begins Thursday and is a standard double-elimination format. Tahlequah (33-3) faces Tulsa Edison (10-25) at noon and Coweta (17-17) plays Shawnee (14-15) at 2 p.m. Losers play at 4 p.m. and winners at 6 p.m.
The Lady Tigers have not faced Edison this season, but have played the other teams in their region. Tahlequah defeated Coweta twice, 3-0 and 3-1. THS also earned a 3-0 victory over Shawnee in the Coweta Tournament.
“Everyone I’ve talked to says we should be fine if we throw strikes against Edison,” said THS coach Matt Cloud. “In fact we should be OK in this region as long as we throw strikes.”
Tahlequah has enjoyed tremendous success during the 2013 season while working with a roster of only 12 players.
“We don’t have a big superstar,” Cloud said. “In every game, somebody else steps up. Plus, they really like each other. I’ve coached some very good teams with kids who didn’t like each other. The camaraderie this team has has been key to this team’s success throughout the season. The chemistry has pushed us over the top in some big, close games.”
Cloud added coaching the Lady Tigers is straightforward as they head into regional play.
“Other than some fine-tuning, this team is on cruise control,” he said. “We have five seniors - three have been in the program since they were freshmen. On game day, everyone is ready. The dugout is set up and they have begun stretching. They may sometimes ask what they should have done or need to do in a specific situation, but otherwise they know what to do.”
As the playoffs approach, Cloud said the team has devoted little discussion to the post-season, instead concentrating on the close of the regular schedule.
“This isn’t meant to sound arrogant, but we expect to win the regional, and a lot of other people expect it,” he said. “We do need to keep in mind that we’re going to get the absolute best effort from every one of our opponents.”
Cloud said the Lady Tigers, though relaxed, are also focused.
“There are 32 teams that want in the state tournament, but only eight get to go,” Cloud said.
“With all the time and effort this team has put in, I don’t think they are going to be denied that trip to state.”
On Friday, the loser of game 4 and winner of game 3 meet at noon.
The victor advances to play at 2 p.m. against the winner of game 4.
The game 4 winner must win one of two games for a berth in the state tournament, while the opponent must win both games to advance.
If necessary, a second championship game starts at 4 p.m.
Admission to the 5A Regional 6 Tournament is $5 for students and adults.