By Jimmy Stinson
FORT GIBSON – The Fort Gibson Lady Tigers can blame it on a Monday or blame it on a pitcher that does not throw as hard as they’re used to.
Whatever the reason, it took a while for the Class 4A No. 5 Lady Tigers’ bats to come around, eventually beating the Inola Lady Longhorns 6-0 at the Fort Gibson softball field.
“I know they (Inola) lost their main pitcher,” said Fort Gibson coach Jaime Snyder. “These girls are filling in and doing a good job but we knew the speed wasn’t going to be there and we worked on trying to slow it down.”
Fort Gibson (15-4) could not adjust at the plate enough in the early going to put any pressure on the Inola defense. The Lady Tigers managed only four baserunners, two courtesy of walks, through the first three innings.
Brooke Benham laid down a bunt for an infield single in the second inning and Mackenzie Williams doubled over the head of the left fielder to lead off the third inning. Emilee Rigsby and Brea Jordan drew first inning walks, but the Lady Tigers could not capitalize and stranded all four runners.
“That’s just a discipline thing, you try to slow it down and hit it up the middle,” said Snyder. “Finally our bats came around.”
Jesse Biggs started for Inola (14-8) in the circle and held the Lady Tigers scoreless until the fourth inning. Benham got the scoring started with a single to left, plating Lauren Diebold who led off with a single and eventually moved to third on a sacrifice by Kelsey Hornback and a groundout by Sydney Murray.
Brittany Reynolds replaced Biggs in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Fort Gibson bats roared to life. Back-to-back singles by Rigsby and Brea Jordan brought Miranda Cherry to the plate. With a 1-1 count, Cherry hit a foul ball towards Snyder in the third base coaching box.
The ball seemed to take a bad hop and struck Snyder over the eye and caused a cut that was bad enough to require stitches. Snyder waited until after the game to have her eye looked but had a few words for Cherry before the next pitch.
“She told me I better hit the ball some where fair and I did,” said Cherry. “I didn’t want it any where close to her. I asked her if she wanted a helmet when I got back up to hit.”
The hit was a line drive between the first and second, bringing home Rigsby and making the score 2-0.
After a walk to Diebold, Biggs re-entered, replacing Reynolds, but the hits kept coming. Hornback doubled down the left field line to drive in Jordan and Cherry to make the score 4-0 while Diebold and came in to score on the third hit of the day by Benham. Sage Stout closed out the scoring, bringing in Hornback on a groundout.
Madison Higley got the win in the circle for the Lady Tigers, improving to 15-4. She scattered five hits with no walks but did hit a batter and recorded 10 strike outs.
“We have struggled at the plate a little bit and I hope this was our breakout game,” Snyder said.
Benham was 3-for-3 with two runs batted in, Stout went 1-for-3 with an RBI while Hornback was 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Diebold added two runs on one hit and a walk, Rigsby and Jordan each had a hit and a run scored while Cherry finished the day going 2-for-4 with a run, an RBI and one hit coach.
Fort Gibson returns to action at 5 p.m. today when it hosts Wagoner.