OKLAHOMA CITY – The Bethel Lady Wildcats only managed one hit but were able to score three runs and defeat Hilldale 3-1 in the opening round of the state tournament Thursday.
“We've played good teams all year long,” coach Chad Smith said. “Our kids have battled through some adverse situations and has really led up to this moment. This is a huge victory for our school and on a personal level for me. It is only one step, but it's a big step. Our goal is to win the whole thing. Whether that happens or not, that's up to God. We'll give it our best effort and see what happens.”
Hilldale struck first in the top half of the first inning on a Drew Riddle double that scored Hope Parker to give the Lady Hornets an early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the first, Bethel's Rian Gamble, Reanna McGowen and Karlie Lamb all reached on walks That loaded the bases for Mya Green, who reached on a fielder's choice that resulted in Gamble being forced out at the plate. Pitcher Jordyn Zachary put the next ball in play and a throwing error by Hilldale's third baseman resulting in a 3-1 Lady Wildcat lead.
Hilldale's starting pitcher Kiley Butler lasted 1/3 of an inning before she was replaced by Makayla Williams. Butler was responsible for all three base runners and was on the hook for Bethel's three first inning runs.
“It was a big emotional boost for us,” Smith said. “Just by her struggling, it boosted our confidence at the plate. It definitely put momentum on our side and led to us putting our runs on the board.”
Bethel's Jordyn Zachary struck out two batters in the second inning after surrendering one hit. The Lady Wildcats went three up and three down in the bottom half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning with two outs, Hilldale's Kenna Hoffman roped a single that hit the center field wall that put a runner on and Bethel's Zachary got out of the inning after recording her sixth strikeout of the game.
Hilldale rallied again in the top of the fifth a Taylor Sanchez walk and a Hope Parker single. Bethel's Green made an off balance catch in foul territory for the second out. Lamb fielded a grounder and threw out the runner for the third out.
Bethel would go three up and three down in the bottom of the fifth.
The Lady Hornets put runners in scoring position after a dropped fly ball by Bethel's Lilla Wade and Lamb mishandled a grounder at shortstop. Lamb redeemed herself with two outs when she narrowly threw out the runner at first for the third out.
Zachary pitched a complete game. In the winning effort, she gave up seven hits, walked three and fanned nine.
The lone Lady Wildcat hit was recorded by Lamb. She also scored a run and recorded a walk.
Bethel plays Lone Grove today at 1:30 in the semi-finals.