By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
When Oktaha and Sequoyah take the field at The Ballfields at Firelake in Shawnee on Thursday at the state fastpitch softball tournament, both schools will be looking to erase a bad memory from its last appearance.
In last year’s Class 3A championship game, Sequoyah and Little Axe were tied 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh when Little Axe scored an unearned run to take the title with a 1-0 win over the Lady Indians while in 2011, it was Oktaha that saw its dream of a gold ball shattered with a 1-0 loss in the 2A title game against Panama.
“We’d been to state six or seven years in a row and had always gotten to the semis,” said Sequoyah coach Jeff Turtle. “Last year, we finally got to the finals and had some chances and Little Axe had some chances. But we made one mistake and it cost us.”
This season, both Sequoyah and Oktaha are in Class 3A and played each other twice, each taking a 4-2 decision on its home field. The familiarity will not work against either team, according to Oktaha coach Kia Holmes.
“By this time of the season, everybody knows everybody,” Holmes said. “You’re not going to surprise someone this late.”
The nucleus of the Lady Indians’ team has the 2012 final to remind them of the ultimate goal. Sequoyah, 32-6 and the No. 1-ranked school in the final OSSAA Class 3A poll, plays the final game of the quarterfinal round at 5 p.m. Thursday against Hugo (24-5).
“We want to work that much harder this year,” said Sequoyah junior pitcher Kati Phillips who has a 32-6 record in the circle. “We want to make it all the way this time.”
Oktaha, on the other hand, is No. 5 in 3A at 25-7 and is taking the attitude of nothing to lose. The Lady Tigers play at 3 p.m. Thursday against No. 6 Henryetta (19-9) and returning to state adds special redemptive value to the trip for the 12 players on this year’s roster that were on that 2011 squad.
“It’s just everything in the world,” said senior Taylor Pevehouse, a third baseman in 2011 and the Lady Tigers’ pitcher this season. “My sophomore year, we thought we could win it easy. We just got too confident.
“This year, we didn’t know for sure and we’ve had to battle every game. This year is a much better feeling.”
The tournament was moved to Shawnee because of renovations being made to the ASA Hall of Fame complex in Oklahoma City.
“I might be biased but I think the eastern side of the state is better than the western,” Holmes said. “And we all root for each other. If we can’t win state, I hope Sequoyah does.”