MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 7, 2012

Little Axe blanks Sequoyah in fastpitch finals

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— OKLAHOMA CITY — Saturday’s Class 3A state championship game will likely rank as the most heartbreaking of losses for the Sequoyah High School fastpitch softball team.

And it came down to a mishandled play after 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

With the two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Sequoyah second baseman Taylor Thompson made a back-handed stop on a ball hit by Little Axe’s Reagan McDoulett up the middle, and Thompson tried to flip it to teammate and shortstop Kara Linch for the force out.

However, the ball bounced off Linch’s glove and Little Axe’s Ally Allen raced home from third base safely and the Lady Indians’ first appearance in the finals ended in tearful disappointment, losing 1-0.

Thompson pointed a finger to herself after the game.

“I should’ve stepped on second base,” she said. “I knew we had a chance to step on it, but I didn’t do it. I think I got caught up in the moment and I panicked.

“This hurts a lot because I feel like it’s on my shoulders. I’m going to tell Kara I’m sorry.”

Linch didn’t blame Thompson.

“It’s partly my fault for not taking the ball,” she said. “Being a senior, this is pretty hard to not catch the ball on the last play of the game. She and I just didn’t talk on that play. This does hurt.”

It’s especially hurtful as the Lady Indians made their first appearance in the state championship game after reaching the semifinals for five straight years.

“We’ve got this out of the way and hopefully we can be on the other side of the score next time,” Sequoyah coach Jeff Turtle said. “To lose 1-0 is tough on me and tough on them. You hurt, but that’s part of life. Somebody’s going to go home a winner and hopefully, one day we will.”

Sequoyah ended the season at 31-8. The fastpitch success came after the slowpitch team had to give up its state title for having an ineligible player.

Meanwhile, Little Axe (28-10) won its third straight state title, capturing the 4A championship in 2010 and the 3A crown in 2011. Through all of that, success has been pitcher Andee Frazier. She struck out 15 Sequoyah batters and tossed a two-hitter in Saturday’s finale.

“She has a good rise ball,” Turtle said. “Thank goodness she’s a senior and won’t be around any more.”

Sequoyah had a chance to score in the second. Left fielder Rhanda Walker singled and tried to advance to third base, but Allen threw her out from right field. Designated player Baylee Ratliff’s fourth-inning single was the Lady Indians’ only other hit.

Katie Phillips, relieving starting pitcher Jessie Bluebird, was the losing pitcher. Bluebird, who yielded four hits, hugged family and friends after the loss.

“When I saw the ball hit the ground (on the last play), I knew they had scored,” she said. “I’m proud we made it this far, but I really do wish we could’ve won it. I’m disappointed right now.”