PHS summer softball slate includes 3 home dates

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

With three months remaining before the start of the high school fast-pitch softball season, the Pawhuska Lady Huskies are looking to fill about three key spots in their lineup.

Testing was set to begin Tuesday morning when the PHS girls opened a monthlong summer league with home games against the Bristow Lady Pirates and Dewey Lady Doggers. On Thursday, the Lady Huskies will be headed to Chelsea for a 9 a.m. contest versus the home-standing Lady Dragons and a 10 a.m. showdown with the Ketchum Lady Warriors.

During the 16-game campaign, the Lady Huskies are scheduled to play Dewey and Chelsea three times each. Pawhuska also has two meetings against Bristow, Ketchum, the Sperry Lady Pirates and the Caney Valley Lady Trojans, plus single-game matchups with Foyil’s Lady Panthers and the Vinita Lady Hornets.

The PHS squad will host its other summer-league contests on Thursday, June 9, and Tuesday, June 21. June 9, the Lady Huskies are to play Bristow at 9 a.m. and Caney Valley at 11, with the two visiting teams pitted in the middle game. Pawhuska is have back-to-back home showdowns with Dewey on June 21, at 10 and 11 a.m.

Starting his second season at the helm of the Lady Huskies is Brian Edwards, who also coaches PHS’ baseball and wrestling teams. Danny Chronister assists with both softball and baseball. Last year’s Pawhuska girls’ squad won 10 of its first 13 games before dropping 15 of the last 19.

“We finished 14-18, but our record should have been more like 25-7,” Edwards said. “It seemed like we always had one bad inning in the field that would kill us.”

The Lady Huskies will be hard pressed to replace shortstop Keylee Kirk and centerfielder Sarah Phillippi, recently-graduated, four-year starters who are going to be missed offensively as well as on defense. Also lost to graduation was pitcher Breanna Redeagle.

A junior battery of pitcher Ashley Henley and catcher Star Sweeden gives the team a promising start for the future. The PHS infield will include senior veteran Mary Jo Upchurch and proven freshman Kianna Taylor, while the outfield returns junior standout Kyleigh Riebel and fleet senior Darienne Frye.

“It won’t be easy to make up for those players we lost to graduation, but I like what we’ve got coming back,” said Edwards. “I also think there’s more help that’s on the way.”

Henley batted a robust .418 with 23 hits that included a team-high six doubles and a triple. She knocked in nine runs and scored eight. Henley had a .500 on-base percentage and a stout .564 slugging percentage. As the squad’s No. 2 pitcher, Henley hurled 46 2/3 innings in 13 appearances and recorded five victories.

In addition to playing stellar defense, Riebel led the Lady Huskies in base hits, with 40 — which included 33 singles, four doubles and three triples. She batted .385, knocked in seven runs, scored 24 times (second most on the squad) and had 18 stolen bases (also No. 2 for the team).

Upchurch provided infield stability while getting 22 hits, scoring 16 runs and driving home 14. She also drew a team-best 17 walks. Sweeden hit for a .290 average, knocked in 11 runs and scored 10. Frye scored eight runs and had 10 RBI. Taylor played multiple positions as a freshman, hit .260 and scored 11 times. Sweeden, Frye and Taylor each stole seven bases.