Lady Huskies to build on postseason success

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Lady Huskies to build on postseason success

One win out of three games at last week’s Regional Tournament did not get the Pawhuska High School Lady Huskies into the 2014 Class 3A state softball tournament, but it clearly established them as contenders for next year’s event.

With battle-tested confidence forged by a season’s valuable experience, and eight of nine starters due back, the PHS girls should be a force to be reckoned with in 2015.

“We’ve definitely came a long way this year,” PHS coach Olivia Chronister said Monday. “I think everyone on our team has improved and, with only two seniors, the future is looking good.”

After winning a district title with a two-game sweep at Kellyville, the Lady Huskies went to Chandler on Thursday to open their 3A Regional against the host Lady Lions. Chandler, 3A’s No. 7-ranked team, was in take-no-prisoners’ mode as they dispatched Pawhuska, 11-1, and Kansas, 11-5, on opening day.

Despite the score, Chronister said there was a highlight for the Lady Huskies in the opening game.

“Our shortstop, Keylee Kirk, had twin cousins playing for Chandler and she got them both out on a double play,” Chronister said. “After she fielded the ball, Keylee tagged one of them and then threw out the other.”

Kirk went on to even bigger plays in PHS’s second Thursday contest — a 3-2 triumph over Newkirk. The Lady Huskies and Lady Tigers were tied after the regulation seven innings and it remained even, at 2-2, into the last of the ninth.

“Keylee had been batting left-handed all day, but I had her switch and bat-righthanded,” coach Chronister said. “She hit one hard off the shortstop and took second when the girl didn’t chasing it down fast enough.”

A bunt single by Kyleigh Riebel moved the runner to third and Sarah Phillippi then laid down “an absolutely perfect squeeze bunt.”

“If Sarah hadn’t bunted it, I think Keylee would have stole home — she was almost to the plate, anyway,” the PHS coach said.

The victory put the Lady Huskies in a Friday elimination game with Kansas, and the local girls were hammered, 15-0. It appears the Comets were just warming up, too, as they went on to beat Chandler twice — 5-4 and 9-8 — to earn a berth in this week’s 3A state tournament.

Pawhuska’s game with Newkirk was the third meeting of the two teams this season. The Tigers won the first meeting, 12-5, in August and the Huskies (who finished 9-30) took a rematch, 10-5, in September.