With the temperature sitting at the century mark and the head coach on IR, the Muskogee Lady Roughers opened the fast pitch softball season dropping a 1-0 decision to Oktaha in eight innings at Rougher Park Monday evening.
It was a night for the pitchers as Meadow Million limited Oktaha to just five hits while Cayton Sloan of the Lady Tigers was equally tough giving up only four hits to the Roughers, two of them to D’Asia Brown. Oktaha made the most of their hits plus four walks to put pressure on Million and the Lady Rougher defense with five sacrifice bunts in the game. In every inning except the first, the Lady Tigers got their leadoff batter at least as far as second base only to strand nine on the base paths which was a little frustrating for Oktaha head coach Kia Holmes.
“You could tell it was opening day. It was nice to see we were getting runners on but we just couldn’t get the hits to bring them in which really hasn’t been a problem for us in our scrimmages during the summer,” said Holmes. “I was proud of the girls for not getting their heads down after not scoring inning after inning. Our seniors did a good job of keeping everyone’s spirits up.”
The Lady Tigers first opportunity to put numbers on the board came in the third inning when a pair of hits and a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third with one out. But a base running error by Brookelyn Thomas got her caught in a rundown between third and home and Million escaped trouble as she got the dangerous Karli Ashing to fly out to left.
Muskogee’s best scoring chance came in the sixth as a single and double put runners at second and third with just one out. But Karsyn York bounced back to the pitcher and Haidyn Henry flied to left to end the threat.
Oktaha’s small ball game finally cracked the Muskogee defense in the eighth. Ashing led off with a walk. Jocelyn Williams put down the sacrifice bunt but Henry’s throw to first base got past second baseman Hannah Cawthon who was covering and went down the right field line allowing Ashing to score all the way from first for what would be the winning run.
Muskogee coach Don Yates, sporting a sling on his right arm following surgery on a broken wrist that has kept him off the diamond for the better part of the last three weeks, was pretty upbeat despite the loss.
“I knew opening up with Oktaha (1-0) would be a tough game. They’ve got a great program and went to state last year. But it’s like I told the kids, we’re going to see tough teams every time we go out. But I wasn’t at all displeased with the loss,” said Yates. “I think me being out for so long has slowed our progress as we saw tonight with our hitting. But even then, we made some adjustments to get on pitches we missed early and were just a little off of getting a key hit here or there.”
The Roughers (0-1) will host Sequoyah at 5:30 p.m. Thursday while Oktaha is home at 5 p.m. today against Fort Gibson.