Tahlequah has needed some late-inning heroics to prevail in games this week. Such was not the case against Keys on Thursday.
Tahlequah pelted out 14 hits — seven in the final inning — and breezed to a 17-0 blowout of Keys at Lady Tiger Field on the first day of the Tahlequah/Northeastern State University tournament.
“We keep starting in the seventh inning,” said Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud, whose team has picked up a pair of one-run victories this week by scoring in seventh inning.
“I think if we take it to somebody early, we can (take control) from the get-go. We just haven’t; we haven’t found ourselves while hitting.”
Tahlequah (10-0) used a big assist from Keys (3-5) in the opening frame to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Keys third baseman Jaylee Young committed back-to-back errors to start the game, and Tahlequah’s Whitney Wright, Randee O’Donnell and Kirsten Chase capitalized. Wright drove in Marisa Girdner, O’Donnell smacked a triple down the left-field line to score Wright, and Chase followed with a run-scoring single to left-center field.
What followed for Tahlequah — who was ranked No. 1 in Class 5A before rankings were taken down on OSSAArankings.com — was a two-run third inning, highlighted by Lainey Wallace’s sacrifice fly.
Tahlequah notched a single run in both the fourth and sixth innings before exploding for 10 in the final inning.
Solid from start to finish was Tahlequah pitcher Morgan Tarrance. The junior hurler — after losing a no-hit bid in the fifth inning — went the distance, throwing 85 pitches (56 for strikes) in seven shutout innings, which included six strikeouts and one walk.
“She did a great job today,” Cloud said of Tarrance, whose team also beat Locust Grove (8-0) and McAlester (3-2) earlier in the day.
“She won three games, and she came in in a tough situation against McAlester. She’s kind of settling into her role there.”
Tagged with the loss for Keys was Jasi Stopp, who lasted five innings before being lifted for Young. Stopp allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts.
Keys will take on Piedmont (2:30 p.m. at Tahlequah High School) and Locust Grove (4 p.m. at Northeastern State) today. Tahlequah — with both games at home — will challenge Piedmont at 1 p.m. and Henryetta at 4.
“Two tough ones (on Friday),” Cloud said. “I think that will be our two toughest games. I think if we pitch and play defense, I think we’ll scratch a few runs out.”