Lady Huskies primed for success

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Four days after their summer softball season wrapped up, the Pawhuska High School Lady Huskies were cleaning up Saturday at a car wash fundraiser.

Lady Huskie diligence and teamwork paid off in both cases. No wonder, since (softball) diamonds are a girls’ best friend.

The four-week summer league served as an advance preseason for PHS’ fastpitch squad, which is set to begin practices July 15 for the 2016 high school season. Playing against Bristow, Caney Valley, Chelsea, Dewey, Foyil, Ketchum and Sperry, the Lady Huskies won 10 of 14 summer contests, while losing twice and tying twice.

“Our only losses were to Dewey and Caney Valley, and we came back later and beat both of them,” Pawhuska coach Brian Edwards said. “We actually could have been undefeated, because it was errors that cost us the two games we lost.”

Last Tuesday, PHS finished the summer campaign by sweeping a pair of home victories from Dewey’s Lady Doggers.

Edwards is in his second season as coach of the Lady Huskies and Danny Chronister provides support as an experienced assistant. The 2015 Pawhuska squad won 14 of 32 games, with eight of its losses being by three or fewer runs. Graduation cost the Lady Huskies two infielders, a veteran outfielder (Sarah Phillippi) and pitcher Breanna Redeagle — who had thrown a majority of the innings over the past two years.

Juniors-to-be Ashley Henley and Lauren Garrett handled the summer-league pitching for PHS and Edwards said he was satisfied with their performances.

“They stepped right in and proved they’re capable of getting the job done,” said the coach. “And, each brings something different to the table — which is another plus.”

Four-year Lady Huskie starter Sydney Sellers shared the June catching duties with freshman Allyssa Reynolds, and returning junior Star Sweeden will add even more depth at the backstop position. Pawhuska’s lineup also includes Jordyn Kitchell, a versatile junior.

Third-year starter Kyleigh Riebel shifted from left field to center and sophomore infielder Kianna Taylor shifted from to left field. Darienne Frye, an incoming senior, is another returning starter in the outfield. Senior sparkplug Mary Jo Upchurch and junior gamer Sierra Sellers will help to anchor the Lady Huskie infield.

A freshman, Tatiana Curry, is the heir apparent to Keylee Kirk, PHS’s four-year starter at shortstop. And, the position may be Curry’s until about 2020.

“Our two freshmen (Reynolds and Curry) really impressed me this summer,” Edwards said, adding: “So did the two seniors — Sydney (Sellers) and Mary Jo (Upchurch).”

Back-to-back home scrimmages will get the PHS season underway on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 1-2. The Lady Huskies host the Cleveland Lady Tigers on Aug. 1 (starting time uncertain) and play the Lincoln Christian Lady Bulldogs beginning at 11 a.m. on Aug. 2. The softball field is located at 1700 McKenzie Road.

The Pawhuska Lady Huskies Alumni Game and Hit-A-Thon on Saturday evening, Aug. 6, provides an entertaining final tuneup before the start of the regular schedule. Members of the Pawhuska junior high squad also are expected to take part in the Hit-A-Thon event.

For the 2016 season opener, PHS will be on the road at Newkirk on Monday, Aug. 8. The Lady Huskies are to meet the host Lady Tigers at 3:30 p.m. before taking on the Alva Lady Goldbugs at 5:30.

Pawhuska’s girls will then play in the Cushing Tournament, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 11-13.

On Monday, Aug. 15, the Lady Huskies are hosting Pawnee’s Lady Bears in the regular-season home opener. First pitch will be at 4:30 p.m.

A road trip to Ponca City is set for Tuesday, Aug. 16. (Classes will start at Pawhuska schools on Wednesday, Aug. 17.)

The Lady Huskies are participating in the Barnsdall Tournament on Aug. 18 and 20, with an appearance at the Kellyville Softball Festival slated for Friday, Aug. 19.

Road games at Mannford and Barnsdall will follow on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 22-23, before the PHS girls greet the Hominy Lady Bucks for a Thursday, Aug. 25, home contest.

Pawhuska travels to Chelsea on Monday, Aug. 29, and Tonkawa on Tuesday, Aug. 30. A third consecutive road trip will take the Lady Huskies to Cleveland on Thursday, Sept. 1.

Home games with Mannford and Newkirk are set for Tuesday, Sept. 6, and a trip to meet Oklahoma Union at South Coffeyville will be Thursday, Sept. 8.

A final home contest versus the Barnsdall Lady Panthers is scheduled Monday, Sept. 12, before the Lady Huskies wrap up their regular campaign Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 15-17, at the Oklahoma Union Tournament. District pairings will take place one week later, Sept. 22-24.

“I like the mix of talent on this team,” Edwards said. “During our summer season, we consistently had about 11 girls there, and everything just seemed to jell.

“It’s a pretty good way to be going into August,” the PHS coach added.

The Lady Huskie junior high softball squad will open its season Thursday, Aug. 11, by hosting Ponca City and then play at Hominy of Friday, Aug. 12. Pawhuska’s Junior High Softball Tournament will be held at the local field Aug. 18-20.