By BEN JOHNSON
Madison Morris smoked a run-scoring double to center field, and Piedmont's bench erupted with jubilation. The Lady Wildcats were up a run on Tahlequah and feeling quite good about it.
Meanwhile, Tahlequah players remained stoic, never revealing an ounce of panic.
No need to.
The Lady Tigers simply did what they had done all week: come from behind to win a game.
They executed that game plan on Saturday, tallying four unanswered runs to claim a 4-3 victory over Piedmont in the finals of the Tahlequah/Northeastern State University tournament at Lady Tiger Field.
"In the four years that I've been the head coach here," Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud said, "this is the best team at not getting down or not panicking. Before, we'd hit the panic button a little bit, and we couldn't overcome losses."
Tahlequah (13-0) — recording its fifth come-from-behind victory of the season and third of the week — came racing back in the fifth inning. Bub Peters tied the game on a triple to center field, bringing Lainey Wallace around from first base to score. Peters would score shortly after on Marisa Girdner's infield single to third base. On the scoring play, Girdner advanced to third on Piedmont third baseman Michelle Brandon's throwing error, allowing her to score on Whitney Wright's ground out to short.
In the fifth, Brandon misplayed a ground ball, which resulted in Wallace leading off with a single. Her throwing error across the diamond only compound problems moments later.
"Too many errors. All over the field, too many errors," said Piedmont coach Rick Scott, whose team dropped to 5-3 after going 3-3 in the tournament. "We have to make plays; have to make routine plays."
Errors would tarnish Piedmont's chances again in the sixth inning.
Tahlequah's Lindsay Wade, who tripled with two outs, scored when Wallace reached on a throwing error on Logan Simunek, Piedmont's second baseman.
Picking up the victory for Tahlequah in the pitching circle was Wade, who lasted 6 1/3 innings before giving way to Morgan Tarrance. Wade allowed two earned runs on five hits while also striking out three and walking two.
Tarrance, who picked up a save, navigated out of the seventh inning and kept Tahlequah unbeaten on the season. But her stint in the circle came with some drama.
Piedmont's Sagely McAdoo spearheaded a one-out rally with a single, and Madison Giggers followed by reaching on Tarrance's throwing error. One batter later, McAdoo and Giggers scored on Jamie Lowrie's single up the middle.
Lowrie, however, got caught in a rundown between first and second base and was tagged out. Scott argued for obstruction at first base, but the umpires did not reverse the call.
Piedmont's rally wasn't done, though.
Brandon drew a two-out walk, and Bre Davis stepped to the plate as the winning run. Davis, a Central Oklahoma commit, grounded out to short to end the game.
Again, nervousness never crept into Tahlequah's dugout.
"I was probably more uptight than (our players) were," said Cloud, whose team picked up nine hits, including two apiece from Girdner and Wright.
"(Piedmont's) No. 4-hole hitter (Davis); she's a great hitter. She's hit a lot of balls out of the park, and I was probably more panicked than (our players) were. But we got (Davis) to do what she did."
Tahlequah will be back in action Tuesday at Skiatook in District 5A-3 play. Piedmont will host El Reno in 5A-1 on Monday.
Looking toward next week, Cloud — whose team is now 11-0 in tournament play this year — said: "Now we'll settle down and get into some regular-season games here for a little bit."
Tahlequah/NSU tournament scoreboard
First-place game: Tahlequah 4, Piedmont 3
Third-place game: Henryetta 5, McAlester 0
Fifth-place game: Keys 8, Locust Grove 3