By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
TAHLEQUAH – Tuesday’s softball doubleheader between the Tahlequah Lady Tigers and the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers was a matter of one team taking advantage of its opportunities and the other team not.
Tahlequah jumped on Fort Gibson in the first inning of both games to sweep the twinbill by run-rule, 16-4 in three innings and 8-0 in five innings.
“They’re a lot better team than we are,” said Fort Gibson coach Jerry Walker. “We had our opportunity in the first inning and couldn’t score then we misplay a couple of balls and gave them extra outs. You can’t give a team like that extra outs. They’re too good.”
In the first game, Fort Gibson (4-3) put the first two runners on in the first inning and even had the bases loaded and one out. However, Tahlequah pitcher Erin Dillard induced to fly balls to end the threat.
When Tahlequah’s first three hitters got on in the bottom of the inning, the first on an error, the run parade began. After Whitney Wright was forced out at second, scoring Randee O’Donnell with the first run, the next 12 batters for Tahlequah (15-4, No. 4 in Class 6A) reached safely. In all, it produced 11 runs — four of which came on a grand slam by Caitlin Chuculate — on its way to a 14-0 advantage after the first inning.
“When we come out like that, I think it gets everyone pumped,” Chuculate said. “It gets everyone going to get their base hit and gets everything going again.”
Tahlequah would add two more runs on three hits in the second for a 16-0 advantage. Fort Gibson tried to avoid getting run-ruled with four runs in the top of the third but the game ended when Courtney Baird grounded out with runners on first and second.
“The best inning we played all day was the first inning,” said Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud. “After that, we just kind of went through the motions a little bit. Not taking anything away from (Fort Gibson, but I think as a team we took a step backwards.”
Game two started silently for Fort Gibson with a walk, a fielder’s choice and a double play. Once again, Tahlequah jumped on top with three runs on a two-run home run by Kirsten Chase with no outs and a solo shot by Kortney Dry with one out.
Chase, who hit a three-run home run in the second inning of game two, finished the day going 4-for-5 with two home runs, four runs scored and six runs batted in. Chase had a chance to end game two in the third inning had she hit her third home run of the game. But she grounded out harmlessly to second to end the inning.
“That’s because I was trying to hit it that way, trying to hit it out,” said Chase about her groundout. “I just wanted to end the game (then) with a run-rule.”
O’Donnell finished the day going 3-for-5 with five runs scored and one RBI. Dry was 3-for-6 with two home runs, four runs scored and four RBIs.
Fort Gibson had two players garner more than one hit. Kyla Martin and Sage Stout were both 2-for-4 with a run scored, with Stout driving in one run. Sydney Murray was 1-for-3 with three RBIs.
“Kirsten and Kortney are our RBI kids,” Cloud said. “That’s why we put them two and four in the order – try to get singles in front of them and home runs from them. We played good defense but I was just more frustrated with the way we played at the plate.”
Both teams are in the Sequoyah Tournament on Thursday.