SHAWNEE – Kia Holmes wasn’t sure which Oktaha softball team showed up Thursday night in the Class 2A fastpitch quarterfinals, but it certainly wasn’t the squad she’d watched cruise to a fourth straight state-tournament berth.
Fighting uphill almost all the way, the fifth-ranked Tigers lost 7-1 to No. 4-ranked Amber-Pocasset at The Ball Fields at Firelake, ending their nine-game winning streak at the most inopportune time.
Am-Po freshman right-hander Addy Peterson twirled a four-hitter and didn’t allow an earned run. The Panthers, meanwhile, rolled up 14 hits and posted two three-run innings against Oktaha ace Cayton Sloan.
“We didn’t play very well,” Holmes said. “Honestly, we didn’t do anything very good today. The weather sucked, we stunk, we didn’t play very good defense. It’s unfortunate. Of course, we had a good season and we’re glad to be here and all that, but I just wish that we would have played better.”
The game was played with the temperature steadily dropping – into the 50s by game’s end, with a fierce north wind – and through three separate rain showers.
“It was cold for them, too,” Holmes said. “It wasn’t like it was just cold for us. The conditions weren’t the greatest, but we’ve known for a week that it was going to be like this. I’m not for sure why they didn’t move the games up. But nobody asked my opinion.”
Caleigh Jeffries’ double to right field keyed a three-run second inning for Am-Po, with Devynn Harris also delivering a run-scoring single to center field that put the Panthers up 3-0. Oktaha threatened in the bottom of the inning, with Sloan and Jaylie Burress each singling, but Peterson ended the threat by striking out Jocelynn Williams and Kira Meaders.
Am-Po (32-5) added a run in the fourth, as Cierra Shelton hit a pinch-hit single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly/line drive by Baylee Haugland.
Oktaha (32-4) scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Karley Fewel reached on an infield single. Williams followed with a hard-hit fly ball that Jeffries, the Am-Po center fielder, dropped. Fewel raced around to score, but Williams was thrown out trying to reach third base.
Peterson, who had six strikeouts, settled down to retire seven straight batters before a one-out infield single by Fewel in the seventh.
“In any facet of the game, we didn’t play very well. If we would quit chasing balls out of the zone, I feel like we might have given ourselves a chance. The problem was, we just kept chasing her curveball. It didn’t look to me like it was close to a strike, but it was when we swung and missed.”
The loss ended the fast-pitch careers of the Tigers’ three seniors – Sloan, Karli Ashling and Mya Allen.
Am-Po advanced to play No. 1 Silo in Friday’s semifinals.