By BEN JOHNSON
Morgan Tarrance blasted a grand slam over the left-center field wall. She rounded the bases, exchanged some high-fives with Bub Peters, Whitney Wright and Lainey Wallace at home plate and sported a smile on her way back to the dugout.
Then, she adhered to a team rule and went and chased down her own home-run ball beyond the fence.
“Our rule is ‘you hit it, you get it,’” Tarrance said. “So I had to go get it.”
Tarrance’s pinch-hit grand slam was part of an 11-run second inning as Class 6A No. 7 Tahlequah coasted to an 18-3 victory over 6A No. 13 Poteau on Tuesday afternoon. The victory, which was cut short via the run rule, preceded Tahlequah’s win in game two, a 9-0 triumph in five innings.
“The first game we looked really really good,” Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud said. “I think (in the second game), we kind of lost our focus.”
In Tahlequah’s first outing since March 13, the Lady Tigers started things off by keeping Poteau off the scoreboard in the first inning of the first game. Then, Tahlequah (4-0) went to work.
Tahlequah’s first five hitters — Marisa Girdner, Randee O’Donnell, Kirsten Chase, Kortney Dry and Peters — all recorded hits before Poteau could notch its first out. After batting around in the first frame, Tahlequah scored seven runs and never looked back.
Poteau (3-3) scored three runs in the second inning, but RaeLynn Caldwell grounded out to short with runners in scoring position to end the threat.
Tahlequah capitalized by unloading 11 runs on Poteau in the home half of the second inning. Tarrance’s blast with one out came when she was subbed in for Lindsay Wade.
“Before we started the game today, I was working in the cages, and (Cloud) was talking to me and telling me to wait on the ball, because sometimes I’ll get to where I won’t wait on the ball and I’m out in front of it,” Tarrance said. “My approach was just that I had to wait on it to come down and hit it.”
That’s exactly what she did. With her one swing, Tarrance logged a game-high four runs batted in, the same amount that Peters finished with after she followed Tarrance’s home run with a three-run shot of her own.
Tahlequah finished the first game with 18 runs on 17 hits, including three apiece by Girdner and Chase.
In the second game, Tahlequah put the game away with a six-run third inning. Chase finished three-for-three, including a solo home run in the first inning. Girdner, O’Donnell and Chase all scored twice, and Dry and Peters both drove home two runs.
Tahlequah’s pair of victories came with a tough slate of games ahead this Friday and Saturday at the Big Cat Classic in Moore. In central Oklahoma, Tahlequah will take on 6A No. 4 Union, 6A No. 3 Moore, 6A No. 2 Muskogee and 4A’s top-ranked club, Dale, in pool play.
That’s where Tahlequah will find out what it’s made of, Cloud said.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be real tough,” Cloud said. “If we could make it out of there with three wins, I’d be happy. But could we win five? Yeah, we could, if we put it all together.”