By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
If softball were horseshoes or hand grenades, Muskogee might have wrapped up a District 6A-3 title at Rougherettes Park on Tuesday.
Instead the close ones all went Jenks’ way, giving the Lady Trojans the 6-3 win, keeping the Lady Roughers’ magic number at one game.
The Lady Roughers will have to defeat either Union or Bartlesville at home on Thursday, the latter game being part of a makeup from an earlier rainout.
By virtue of an 11-4 win over Jenks on Aug. 22, Muskogee (23-4, 8-2) holds the tiebreaker edge of marginal point differences over the Lady Trojans (21-5, 9-3). Another contender, Bixby, fell out of the race with a 9-0 loss to Sand Springs on Monday.
The Lady Roughers are assured of no worse than second and a regional host role regardless of what happens on Thursday.
“We’ve got to get one,” Muskogee coach Keith Coleman said.
They need to lock their knack for the breaks, or lack thereof on Tuesday, in a locker room closet.
Muskogee struck first when Aubrey Johnson led off the first inning with a single and scored on Dee Emarthle’s two-out single to left.
Jenks pitcher Makayla Hendrix retired the next 10 Lady Roughers, during which time her offense got control of the game.
“She kept us off-balance,” Coleman said of Hendrix.
In the third, a two-out rally tied the game when Brooke Estes’ two-on rip to left field sent Emarthle streaking back. The ball was just off her outstretched glove, and tied the game.
In the fourth, again in a two-on, two-out situation, Kate Myers launched a fly into the corner in left for a double, scoring a pair of runs.
Another two-spot in the fifth added to the cushion. Hendrix reached on an infield single which just escaped the glove of shortstop Brook Hendrickson. Estes followed by beating out a squibbler in front of the plate. Shaylee Rowland got a pair of infield outs from the circle, then Kelsey Zucco’s shot at short was mishandled by Hendrickson, making it a 5-1 contest.
Muskogee’s bats were revived in the bottom of the fifth. Hendrickson legged out an infield single, then Kaitlin Kaiser punched a shallow single to left. Nia Maxwell got a piece of a pitch that rolled toward third as all runners moved up, loading the bases.
But Hendrix escaped without a smudge, getting Bailee Hendrickson, Johnson and Rowland to hit back at her, ending in two force plays at home and a throw-out at first.
“We make those plays, we just win the game. Offensively, if we get a couple hits here and there, we just win the game,” Coleman said. “That’s just the way it goes. You had two good teams going at it and they had more hits than we did.
“Having the bases loaded and no outs and not being able to get a run in hurt for sure. But they have a chance to win the whole thing and we know we’re good. We just have to move on and take care of business on Thursday.”
Estes’ sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 6-1. Muskogee managed a pair of runs off a double by Maxwell and two singles by Johnson and Rowland, but Lexi Watson and Emarthle grounded out to end the rally.
Muskogee plays Union at 5 to start matters on Thursday. The Lady Roughers won the first meeting 3-0 on Aug. 26 and defeated Bartlesville 6-2 in the season opener on Aug. 15.