By Murray Evans
SHAWNEE – There’s a reason Jayden Chestnut has orally committed to Oklahoma’s powerhouse softball program. Muskogee learned firsthand Thursday that the Mustangs’ junior is perhaps the state’s best pitcher.
Chestnut struck out 14 batters – seven straight in one stretch – and limited the Roughers to one hit, leading Mustang to a 4-0 win during the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state fastpitch tournament at The Ball Fields at Firelake.
Mustang advanced to Friday’s semifinals against Moore, while Muskogee ended what was arguably its best season ever at 31-9 despite allowing no earned runs.
“We knew how good she was,” Muskogee coach Keith Coleman said of Chestnut. “She totally dominated us from the beginning to the end. She really didn’t give us any chances. It was a great job by her. Hats off – she’s tough and she did a great job.”
Chestnut continually confounded Muskogee batters, allowing only three baserunners and only one of them past second base.
The Roughers’ only serious threat came in the fourth inning. With one out, Shaylee Rowland recorded the only hit for Muskogee, a double into the gap in left centerfield. Alexis Watson followed with a walk, but Chestnut fanned Dee Emarthle and Carlee Gann to end the inning.
Chestnut struck out the side in the fifth and fanned the first two batters of the sixth before retiring Rowland on a hard-hit grounder to first base. All told, Chestnut retired Muskogee’s final 11 batters.
Rowland pitched well enough for the Roughers, going the distance and scattering seven hits, with two walks and one strikeout. But Muskogee didn’t do itself any favors with its defense, committing seven errors – three each in the fourth and sixth innings, allowing the Broncos to score all their runs.
Ashley Martin’s RBI single up the middle in the fourth put Mustang ahead 1-0 and four batters later, Katelyn Fischer hit a two-run single to left centerfield to make it 3-0. Hailee Milburn walked and came around on two errors in the sixth inning for Mustangs’ final run.
“It was the best season we’ve had in Muskogee history,” Rowland said. “I’m proud of the girls. I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”
Hilldale moves on,
FGHS out in Class 4A
The Hilldale Lady Hornets kept their dream of a state championship alive with a 5-1 win over Oologah while the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers saw its season come to a close with a 7-4 loss to Cache in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Hilldale, 33-5 and the No. 1 team in the final OSSAA Class 4A poll, will face Blanchard, a 3-1 winner over Tecumseh, on Field 1 at noon today while Fort Gibson, the No. 2 team in the 4A poll, finishes its season at 31-6.
“Blanchard has a real good pitcher,” said Hilldale coach Darren Riddle. “They’re a typical state tournament team. They swing the bats well and defensively, they’re real solid.”
It took until the third inning for the Lady Hornets to get on the scoreboard but they did it in dramatic fashion as Kenzi Mize hit a solo home run. In the fourth inning, the Lady Hornets put up two more runs on an error which plated Megan Crow and Sarah Hughey to make the score 3-0.
In the fifth inning Oologah got its only run on a Kenzi Kallio triple to make the score 3-1. The Lady Hornets closed out the scoring in the bottom of the frame on an error and an RBI single by Hughey.
Destiny Riddle was solid from the circle for the Lady Hornets as she four hits and one run.
“We were still hitting the ball well when Kenzi hit her home run,” Riddle said. “That kind of got us going. She also had a double and that’s a pretty good 2-for-3 day for a freshman. Sarah was 3-for-3 and defensively we were solid.
“Destiny pitched a great game. So, we did everything we had to do.”
Fort Gibson got off to a 2-0 advantage on solo home runs by Lauren Diebold in the second inning and Mackenzie Williams in the fourth.
Cache cut into the Lady Tigers’ lead with one run in the bottom of the fifth and put the game away with six runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the Lady Bulldogs a 7-2 lead. In the seventh inning, The Lady Tigers got two runs back in the seventh but that was all they would get to make the final score 7-4. Madison Higley took the loss for Fort Gibson despite striking out 17 Lady Bulldogs.
“We had a fantastic year,” said Fort Gibson coach Jaime Snyder. “I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished which such a young team. When you’re on the stage of a state tournament, sometimes experience helps and you just have to learn how to win at this level and we will.”
– Phoenix staff report
O’Donnell lifts Tahlequah into 5A semis
Kelsi Gore had stayed away from Tahlequah’s Randee O’Donnell all day. Then Chickasha’s pitcher accidentally missed her spot on the most important pitch of the day.
O’Donnell served a Gore pitch over the centerfield wall for a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning, breaking a 2-2 tie and sending Tahlequah to a 5-2 victory over Chickasha in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament in Shawnee.
“She had been feeding me outside all night,” O’Donnell said, “and she served me one down the middle and I took the opportunity. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was over.”
Tahlequah will take on Carl Albert in the semifinals today at 2 p.m. at The Ball Fields at Firelake.
O’Donnell finished the day 1-for-3 with five runs batted in. Obvioulsy, none bigger than the three came across to score on her three-run blast in the waning minutes.
“Randee did what big players do,” Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud said.
– Ben Johnson, CNHI News Service