SHAWNEE — After breaking through on the fastpitch side to grab their first gold seven months ago, No. 7 Sequoyah seemed on target for a softball sweep here in the Class 5A slowpitch state tournament on Monday.
After piling up 18 runs in successive games and dethroning the defending champion Fort Gibson Lady Tigers in the process, the Lady Indians’ bats met up with a more potent Kellyville punch in the finals and the Ponies left with half of softball’s top prizes this school year, winning 18-5 in the championship game, played at the Ball Fields at Fire Lake.
“They’re good,” Sequoyah coach Jeff Turtle said of the second-ranked team that finished at 31-4. “I kind of felt we were the two best teams coming in, confident in our kids, and then after seeing everybody I felt that was the case.
“But we went dead, almost like we were swinging a lead pipe. We were with them for a little while, but we just didn’t swing as good as we did the first two games and at the end of the day, you’ve got to hit better than the other team every time out.”
Kellyville’s Madison Neighbors started the game with a home run to center, one of three blasts the Ponies had in the first inning. Down 7-0, Sequoyah (25-15) got back in it with a four-run first, including a three-run homer by Haylee Tackett and a solo shot by Lana Gass.
Gass would add another RBI in the fourth to make it an 11-5 game, but Neighbors got Kellyville going again in the fifth with a leadoff homer to left, then Grace Littlefield, Makiah Torres, Jaydee Pulliam and Kailyn Bearpaw hit consecutive solo shots. Mayson Evans then added a two-run shot. In all, the six homers added up to another seven-run inning to make it an 18-5 contest.
Afterward, senior Kaylee Smith, a likely all-stater in both versions of the sport for Sequoyah, was looking at the brighter side.
“I think we have made history for Sequoyah softball,” she said. “We haven’t been able to get through the semifinals in either the past few years and we did that in both.”
Madi Joice, a junior, concurred.
“We worked hard for what we accomplished,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people thought we would come through this part. This game, we just ran into a brick wall.
“Second isn’t too shabby. We’re coming back for first next year.”
Smith, Tackett, Ryleigh Clinton and Lana Gass each had two hits for the Lady Indians in defeat.
Sequoyah decided the semifinal in convincing second-inning fashion, scoring 14 runs on 11 hits. A shellshocked Cushing defense committed three errors in the inning.
Joice hit her second home run of the game, a three-run shot. Amiah Galcatcher had a solo, then a two-run single in her second at-bat. A two-run single by Tanasia Cochran was another significant dent in the assault.
Back in the first inning, Smith’s two-run home run scored Galcatcher, who drew a walk, to make it a 4-0 game after one.
Joice was 3-for-3 with five RBIs. Smith was 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Tackett and Galcatcher had two hits.
Cushing, ranked No. 5, finished at 24-12.
Fort Gibson 15
Hannah Thouvenel, Maddi Jo Williams, Abbye Porterfield, Nia Polzin and Baleigh James all hit solo home runs in the Fort Gibson first, and it looked like the defending Class 5A champs and top-ranked Lady Tigers were off and running.
Instead, they’ll go home with a state academic title, but no repeat on the dirt.
Smith, Clinton and Gass went yard in the bottom of the first to draw to within one, then the Lady Indians posted an eight-run second, highlighted by Gass’ three-run home run. Sequoyah, up 12-5, would never trail after that.
It was 15-12 in the fifth when FGHS coach Scott Lowe signaled to intentionally walked Galcatcher — who had homered in the third — with runners in scoring positions. Smith, and Clinton, who both homered in the first, each singled, Smith scoring one and Clinton two, making it 18-12.
Thouvenel’s second solo home run of the day and Porterfield’s second home run, a two-run shot, made it an 18-15 game in the sixth. The Lady Tigers loaded the bases with two outs, but Lauren Bergman’s fly ball to center was flagged down by Galcatcher to end the inning.
“When we showed up today and I saw the flags, I knew we were going to have to hit the ball well. We did, but maybe not so much in situational hitting,” said Lowe.
The Lady Tigers, who left seven on base compared to Sequoyah’s three, went in order in the seventh.
A total of 40 hits were posted in the contest, 22 by Sequoyah. In all, 13 home runs sailed. For Sequoyah, Clinton and Gass homered twice, Galcatcher and Smith had one. Thouvenel, Williams and Porterfield each had two and Polzin, James and Angel Lyons each had one.
“It’s tough, but we give God the glory in the end and that was his will,” said Williams, who finishes her career with the loss as one of four seniors. “Sequoyah’s a great team and they have great coaches. I expect nothing less from them.”
Fort Gibson finished at 25-4.