By Ben Johnson
CNHI News Service
TAHLEQUAH – Kirsten Chase has played most of her high school softball career with contacts. They bothered her eyes, but she dealt with the discomfort.
“The contacts made my eyes hurt,” said Tahlequah’s slugging second baseman.
That prompted Chase to make a change. She opted to go with glasses.
Her black spectacles paid off on Monday as Chase smacked a pair of home runs in Tahlequah’s 8-0 victory over Pryor at Lady Tiger Field.
“I just got them last week,” Chase said of her glasses. “They come in handy.”
Chase said it took her a couple of days to get used to her glasses. She struggled in games against Claremore and Coweta at the end of last week.
She obviously found a comfort zone with the glasses to start off this week.
Chase smacked a three-run home run over the centerfield fence in the first inning to dampen Pryor’s spirits. Chase fouled off a pitch on a full count and then poked the ball to the biggest part of the field.
“I was way out ahead of it,” Chase said while recalling the at-bat. “Pop up, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.”
The ball kept drifting, though. And it didn’t come down until Pryor center fielder Bailee Hillman ran out of room.
Chase then capped off her performance with a two-run home run that stayed just inside the left-field foul pole. She knew she got all of that one.
“That felt like a solid hit,” said Chase, who finished with five runs batted in.
Whitney Wright did the rest of the heavy lifting for Tahlequah on offense. The senior catcher went four-for-four with three runs batted in and two runs scored. She drove in one run in the third inning on a double, and she followed with a two-run double in the fourth frame.
“We came out swinging it today,” said Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud, whose team recorded 10 hits. “(Nos.) one through five swung it really well, and we’ve got to get six, seven, eight and nine going again. Seven and eight were carrying us for the better part of the year, and we just have to finish that.”
Pryor’s offense never got on track because of Tahlequah pitcher Morgan Tarrance. Tahlequah’s junior hurler tossed a one-hit shutout on 77 pitches (50 for strikes). She also struck out eight and didn’t walk a single Pryor hitter.
“Morgan pitched great,” Cloud said. “We’ll look for her to do that in the playoffs.”
Speaking of, the postseason begins next week for both Tahlequah and Pryor. Tahlequah (30-3, 12-2 District 5A-3) had second place in 5A-3 sewn up, while Pryor (16-12, 8-6) was still competing with Collinsville for third in 5A-3.
“We’re just focused on getting ready for our regional; it had already been sewn up for us,” Cloud said. “But don’t anything away from (Pryor), they had everything to play for.”
Tahlequah will continue to prep for next week’s regional tournament by hosting Adair on Tuesday.