By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
The fourth batter in the lineup is known as the clean-up hitter and Tahlequah’s Kirsten Chase showed why on Saturday.
Chase was 2-for-3 with two home runs and five runs batted in as the Lady Tigers run-ruled the Muskogee Lady Roughers 9-1 in the third-place game of the 26th Muskogee Slug Out at Rougherettes Park.
“I felt pretty hot this game,” Chase said. “The first home run was a flat pitch. The second was fairly flat.”
With the win, the Lady Tigers, ranked fourth in Class 6A, improve to 19-2 on the year while the No. 6 Lady Roughers fall to 19-8. Tahlequah advanced to the third-place game with a 13-2 win over No. 5 Tulsa Union earlier in the day while Muskogee was relegated to the game with a 2-1 loss to No. 2 Westmoore.
“Offensively, all day it was a struggle,” said Muskogee coach Keith Coleman. “Defensively, we broke down. And when you play a team like Tahlequah, they’re going to make you pay for mistakes.”
The game looked like it was going to be that lived up to the tournament’s name as the Lady Roughers, playing as the visiting team and seeking their fifth straight trip to the finals, loaded the bases in the top of the first inning with three singles on the first four pitches served up by Tahlequah’s Erin Dillard. But the freshman ended the rally by inducing Muskogee’s Jessi Venable into a 6-4-3 double play — that scored Shaylee Rowland who led off the inning with a single up the middle — and Carlee Gann with a pop up to second.
Tahlequah turned the score to its advantage in the bottom of the frame. After Britney Johnson and Marissa Girdner reached on back-to-back singles up the middle, Randee O’Donnell hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Johnson at third. That set the stage for the first of Chase’s two home runs, a blast to left-center field off Muskogee’s Morgan Taylor (17-8) to put the Lady Tigers up 3-1 after the first inning.
“Every time we come to Muskogee, Kirsten hits like that,” said Tahlequah coach Matt Cloud. “She’s just a sophomore and she has a bright, bright future.”
Dillard (19-2) settled down after the rocky start and allowed three hits the remaining four innings and only one runner to reach third base. Tahlequah added a run in the second inning on a lead-off double by Whitney Wright and groundout by Caitlin Chucalate, which scored Wright after she moved to third on a flyout to center.
The Lady Tigers put the game away in the bottom of the fourth with five unearned runs. Three of the runs came when Gann fielded a grounder by O’Donnell at third with two outs and the bases loaded and threw wildly to first, allowing all three runners to score. Chase capped the scoring with her second long ball, this one over the left-field fence to give the Lady Tigers their final margin.
“We were pretty solid the whole day,” Chase said. “I think we only made a couple of errors. We just build on this because it’s another win and it boosts our confidence.”
Westmoore went on to defeat Class A No. 1 Red Oak 12-6 in the championship game while the fifth-place contest saw Union run-rule No. 7 Jenks, who defeated Sequoyah 16-6 in its first game of the day, 8-0. Red Oak advanced to the championship game with a 19-6 win over Union.
Pool play Saturday
Red Oak 19, Union 6
Jenks 16, Sequoyah 6
Tahlequah 13, Union 2
Westmoore 2, Muskogee 1
Union 8, Jenks 0
Tahlequah 9, Muskogee 1
Westmoore 12, Red Oak 6