Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

September 21, 2012

Feeling good again

Tahlequah gets past Pryor to snap 5-game losing streak and clinch 2nd place in District 5A-3.

Tahlequah’s 25th victory of the season was certainly hard to come by.

After slogging through a recent five-game losing streak, the Lady Tigers burst into the win column on Thursday, sneaking past Pryor, 5-4, at Lady Tiger Field.

“We kind of got over the hump today,” Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud said. “...We got back in the win column, and that’s a step in the right direction.”

Tahlequah (25-7, 9-2 District 5A-3) capitalized on some sloppy Pryor defense early on to clinch second place in the district.

With one out in the first inning, Tahlequah’s Randee O’Donnell drove in Britney Johnson with a triple to left field, before scoring on Bailee Hillman’s fielding error at the wall to give the Lady Tigers a quick 2-0 advantage.

“You can go back and look at our game-by-game box scores, and when we score first, we haven’t been beat — except for when we played Grove the first time around,” Cloud said. “[Scoring first] did help everyone relax. Our Nos. 1, 2 and 3-hole hitters are our table-setters. If they get on and hit, then the rest of the team hits.”

Marissa Girdner and Johnson would both come up with singles for the Lady Tigers in the third inning, but it was another Pryor error that helped pad Tahlequah’s lead. Lindsey Wade reached on a dropped fly ball by Hillman, and she scored moments later when Pryor shortstop Sammy Gordon air-mailed first base on Girdner’s infield single.

Tahlequah inflated its lead in the fifth frame with three extra base hits. Kourtney Dry led off with a double and scored on Wade’s RBI double. Then Wade crossed home plate on Girdner’s triple to center field.

As a team, Tahlequah collected eight hits — six of which came from the top three in the lineup.

Pryor (10-17, 6-5) did make things interesting late, starting with Meleya Belden’s RBI single, which scored Shelby Ayers, in the fifth inning to cut Tahlequah’s lead to 5-1.

Then, after a quick sixth inning for both clubs, the suspense amped up a notch in the seventh.

Johnson walked in a run and allowed two more to score on a throwing error with two outs. But with Pryor within a run in the final inning, Johnson recorded her 11th strikeout to close out the contest.

“I’ve been pretty tough on them this week, and they’ve responded a little bit,” Cloud said. “Are we playing great right now? No. But I think we’ll be fine in two weeks when regionals start.”

Speaking of regionals, with the second spot locked up 5A-3, Tahlequah will host a regional tournament the first week of October.

“Our goal coming into the season is to host a regional,” said Cloud, who has three home games (against Edison, Coweta and McAlester) left to close out the regular season. “We didn’t win the district, but we’ll hopefully host a regional. And hopefully we can put ourselves in position to get back to Oklahoma City.”

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