Lady Huskies proving they are contenders

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Lady Huskies proving they are contenders

The Pawhuska Lady Huskies — led by a solid core of experienced seniors — are off to a roaring start for the 2015 high school softball season.

Following a confidence-building finish to the 2014 campaign, PHS entered the new season with raised expectations under new head coach Brian Edwards. The Lady Huskies won their Aug. 10 opener in a thriller at Newkirk. After Dewey cancelled its scheduled game at Pawhuska on Tuesday, the Pawhuska squad resumed its winning Thursday through Saturday at the Cushing Tournament. When the final dust had settled in the tourney, the Lady Huskies had been victorious in four of six contests while finishing second in their pool and fourth overall.

While he is new in the position with the Lady Huskies, Edwards is familiar as the three-year PHS baseball head coach and an assistant in football and wrestling. In addition, his children have participated in sports at just about every level in the district. Danny Chrionister is in his fourth year as the squad’s assistant coach. He provides a wide range of support. His technical assistance goes well beyond his school job and includes giving instruction to the team’s pitchers.Also, former Lady Huskie assistant Olivia Chronister — who was the team’s head coach for the past three years — remains available to her former players as she is now the PHS guidance counselor.

On Monday, the travel-tested PHS squad improved to 6-2 with a 6-2 win at Ramona over the Caney Valley Lady Trojans. (The Lady Huskies looked to play their first home contest Tuesday when the Tonkawa Lady Buccaneers were scheduled to visit Pawhuska.)

Against Caney Valley, the Lady Huskies won for the sixth time in eight season outings after breaking a 2-2 deadlock with three runs in the sixth inning. PHS sophomore Sierra Sellers tied the contest with a two-out RBI single in the fourth. She put the visitors in front by lining another rocket to right that sent home junior Mary Jo Upchurch, who had reached base after swinging at a wild third strike to lead off the next-to-last frame.

Pawhuska started the scoring in the top of the first when senior Keylee Kirk walked, advanced on a bunt single by sophomore Kyleigh Reibel and came around to score on single to center by junior Sydney Sellers. The Lady Trojans took over the lead, 2-1, by plating a pair in the bottom of the third stanza.

Lady Huskie pitcher Breanna Redeagle and Welch maintained a pitching duel to the sixth. Redeagle won her sixth game of the season by scattering six hits while striking out eight batters and walking only one. The PHS senior pitched around a double by Avery Lucas leading off the fourth. Pawhuska’s senior third-baseman, Brittney Summers, recorded an unassisted lineout, tag-out double play in the fifth to escape another situation.

Sophomore Ashley Henley walked prior to Sellers’ go-ahead hit and scored one insurance run for the visitors on an RBI groundout by junior Darienne Frye. Sellers scored after a dropped third strike which would have ended the inning. The last Lady Huskie run was scored by senior Sarah Phillippi, who smacked a double to lead off the seventh and scored on a Lady Trojan throwing error.

In the season-opener at Newkirk, the Lady Huskies pounded out 10 hits on their way to a 7-4 victory over the host Lady Tigers. The contest marked the PHS team’s first victory for their new head coach — Brian Edwards.

“We continued to hit the ball well,” Edwards said. “Some of the hits were very timely, too.”

Edwards said the good offensive performance was “a carryover” from the PHS Alumni Game which had been played two days previously. Pawhuska pounded 10 hits and committed nine errors, while Newkirk had six hits and made two errors. Frye singled three times and drove in three Lady Huskie runs. Collecting two hits each for PHS were Sydney Sellers and Summers. The score was tied, 2-2, at the start of fifth when Kirk smacked a leadoff home to put PHS in front by a run.

The contest remained, 3-2, until the seventh when the visiting Pawhuskans scored four more runs. Riebel led off the inning with a bunt single and came home on Sellers’ one-out triple to center. An infield hit by Frye plated Upchurch, who had walked, and Summers, who singled, to cap the scoring. RedEagle pitched the complete-game victory, scattering six hits and surviving nine Lady Huskie errors.

Redeagle pitched and hit he Pawhuska’s girls to a 3-1 win over the Agra Lady Bearcats, 3-1, in Thursday’s first game at the Cushing Tournament. The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning when Agra pushed across a run with a two-out rally that was helped by a pair of Lady Huskie infield errors.

Pawhuska took over the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Sierra Sellers started off the inning with a single before pinch runner Star Sweeden stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a single by Redeagle. A bunt hit by Riebel put runners at second and third with two out. Phillippi knocked a triple into left field that delivered both runners and made the score, 3-1.

Allen issued a full-count walk to the first Lady Bearcat she faced in the sixth and struck out the second. Another PHS error put the tying runs on base for Agra. The senior righthander struck out the next batter on a foul tip (held on to by freshman catcher Kiki Taylor) and got the final out of the contest on a called third strike.

In addition to picking up the pitching “W” against Agra, RedEagle went 2-­for-­2 as a batter. She doubled in the third and had an RBI single in the fifth, when she also scored the go­-ahead run. RedEagle allowed one hit over 4 1/3 innings while striking out six and walking just one. PHS freshman Blake Allen finished and picked up a save in her varsity pitching debut. Allen gave up two hits and an unearned run while recording the final five outs.

The first Lady Huskie loss of the season came against the host team in Thursday’s second contest. In that one, Cushing put five runs on the board before the Lady Huskies even came to bat. Despite being shut out, the Lady Huskies managed six hits — including a double by Phillippi and singles by Kirk, Upchurch, Sydney Sellers, Henley and Frye.

RedEagle started in the circle and Ashley Henley took over the pitching duties in the fourth. Despite being shut out, the Lady Huskies managed six hits ­­ including a double by Phillippi and singles by Kirk, Upchurch, Sydney Sellers, Henley and Frye. The Lady Huskies committed five errors, while the Lady Tigers played an error-­free and belted out 10 hits.

Pawhuska improved to 4-1 Friday with a 10-3 win over Luther and a resounding 14-1 triumph in a rematch with Newkirk. Against Luther, 10 different Lady Huskies combined to rap out 13 hits. A two-run single by Phillippi, an RBI single by Upchurch and a two-run single by Redeagle highlighted the first inning for PHS. Kirk went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored three runs. She doubled in the third inning and singled in the fourth inning. Riebel and Sydney Sellers each had two hits — including a double. Phillippi and Redeagle both picked up two RBI.

Saturday’s early game saw PHS take advantage of some early mistakes by Checotah en route to a 6-1 win. The Lady Huskies put up three first-inning runs on two errors and an RBI groundout by Phillippi. Sydney Sellers was 2-for-3 at the plate as she singled and scored in the first inning and tripled and scored in the third. Summers’s had an RBI single. Redeagle allowed just two hits and no earned runs while racking up 10 strikeouts, with no walks, in five innings.

In the third-place battle with Wellston, the Lady Huskie squad simply ran out of time. Wellston took the lead with a run in the top of the first before Redeagle retired the next five batters she faced. before The Lady Huskies faced a 5-0 deficit after Wellston batted in the third. PHS answered with four tallies in the bottom of the inning on a one-out single by Frye and a 2-RBI single by Phillippi. Sydney Sellers then doubled home Phillippi and and scored on a single by Henley to pull Pawhuska back to within a run, at 5-4. (It was the second two-bagger of the game for Sellers.)

Wellston extended its lead in the top fourth and held on for the win. Henley singled home the other Lady Huskie run. Redeagle started and pitched three innings, yielding seven hits and five runs (all earned), with three strikeouts and a walk. Henley gave up three runs on three hits in an inning with one strikeout and a walk.