Lady Huskies’ season opener follows pair of preseason wins

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

NEWKIRK — Pawhuska High School’s Lady Huskies defeated the Newkirk Lady Tigers, 6-1, Monday to earn a split of opening-day games of the 2016 fastpitch softball season.

Following a hectic preseason week in which they overcame brutal summer heat to win three of four practice contests (by beating two larger-class Tulsa schools and a team from Tahlequah), the PHS girls had to cancel Saturday’s Alumni Game due to a rain-drenched field.

The Lady Huskies had expected to face their hosts in the first game of Monday’s three-way at Newkirk, but instead caught a bug — the Alva Lady Goldbugs, which had taken down the Lady Tigers, 6-1, in the series’ opener. Alva proved to be a major pest as the Lady Bugs scored six runs in the third inning and grabbed a 10-2 victory.

Pawhuska head softball coach Brian Edwards said this year’s PHS squad — a blend of game-proven veterans and talented newcomers — has outstanding potential.

“It should be interesting,” the coach said Monday morning.

In game two against Newkirk, junior pitcher Lauren Garrett threw five shutout innings and Sierra Sellers led a nine-hit attack with a triple and two RBI as the Lady Huskies squared their record by winning, 6-1.

Garrett allowed just four hits and walked one, while getting four strikeouts. Another junior, Ashley Henley, pitched the final inning and nailed down the triumph by whiffing the final batter. Pawhuska freshman Tatayna Curry had two hits, and drove in a run. She and freshman Mary Jo Upchuch also stole two bases apiece.

PHS senior Darienne Frye put the first run on the board against the Lady Tigers. At the start of the fifth inning, Frye drew a walk, stole second and scored on Sellers triple to right field. Garrett knocked in Sellers and, later in the inning, Curry drove home Riebel to make the score 3-0.

The Lady Huskies doubled their advantage, to 6-0, in the fifth. Upchurch walked and Kiki Taylor walked and Sydney Sellers was hit by a pitch. Upchurch stole her way home and Taylor scored on a Sierra Sellers’ groundout. Henley drove in Frye, who had reached base on a fielder’s choice, for the other run.

In the matchup with Alva, Pawhuska grabbed a two-run edge in the third inning. Riebel belted a leadoff double to left and scored the first run of the contest on bunt single by Curry. Taylor’s two-out single up the middle moved Curry to third and the freshman then stole home to make it 2-0.

The Lady Huskies are to resume their slate at the Cushing High School Fall Classic. PHS meets Stroud at 5 p.m. Thursday and will play back-to-back games Friday against Ponca City at 3:30 p.m. and Agra at 5. At the conclusion of Friday’s pool play, the tourney moves into a championship round on Saturday.

Following are recaps of the last two pre-season games of the Lady Huskies. After splitting a pair of Monday contests at the Warner Softball Festival, PHS won a Tuesday home scrimmage, 10-5, over Lincoln Christian. On Thursday, the Pawhuskans went to Tulsa and banged out 29 hits to claim a 15-5 victory over the Washington Lady Hornets.

PAWHUSKA 10, LCS 5

After spotting the Lincoln Christian Lady Bulldogs a four-run lead, the Lady Huskie varsity scored seven times in the bottom of the fourth inning and rolled to a 10-5 triumph in a Tuesday, Aug. 2, home scrimmage.

A bases-loaded walk to Riebel pushed across Pawhuska’s first run of the fourth. After Henley drew a walk to start the inning, Frye reached base on an error and a bunt single by freshman Alyssa Reynolds loaded the bases. Another freshman, Curry, doubled in the next Lady Huskie run. With the bases loaded, Sydney Sellers was hit by a pitch, which forced home another run and pulled PHS within one (5-4).

Upchurch put the Lady Huskies into the lead by blasting a three-run triple to center field. Henley capped the outburst with an RBI single to left, giving the Pawhuska girls a three-run cushion, 8-5.

Henley and Garrett shared the local pitching duties. Garrett recorded eight strikeouts in four innings while allowing only two hits and walking a batter. Henley, the starter, was touched for four hits and gave up four walks, but yielded just one earned run.

“We don’t really have a pitcher that we can go with all the time, but with Ashley and Lauren we’ve got a pretty good combination,” Edwards said. “Both of them are capable of getting the job done.”

Edwards added that the team’s third pitching prospect is sophomore Kalee Kennedy. All tolled, the Pawhuska roster contains a dozen players.

“They’ve been a little slow getting started, but I’ve been impressed with the way the girls work together as a team,” Edwards said Monday, just hours before Pawhuska’s season opener at Newkirk. “If we keep hitting the ball the way we have been, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

PHS 15, LADY HORNETS 5

Thursday, the PHS girls lashed out 29 hits against the Tulsa Washington Lady Hornets and rolled to a 15-5 road triumph in what turned out to be their pre-season finale.

The Lady Huskies again fell behind early, trailing 1-0 afer the first inning and 2-1 at the end of the second. Things started slowly for PHS, which trailed the Lady Hornets, 2-1, at the end of the second inning.

The Lady Huskies snatched the lead, 4-2, by scoring three times in the third. As the offensive floodgates opened, they added three more runs in the fifth and put six on the board in the sixth.

Sydney Sellers collected five hits — including two doubles and a triple. The senior slugger knocked in four runs and scored three times. Taylor hit safely four times (with a pair of two-baggers) and scored four runs.

Juniors Riebel, Sierra Sellers and Henley chipped in three hits apiece. Riebel also stole two bases, while senior Frye went two-for-two (with a double), scored twice and swiped a base. Upchurch drove home three runs with a pair of hits, including a double. Reynolds knocked in two runs with a single and double.

Henley gave up four hits over the first four innings, while striking two out, walking one and plunking four BTW batters with pitches. Garrett closed things out by hurling the final three frames. She yielded five hits, struck out three and walked a pair.