Lady Huskies clinch district softball title

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Pawhuska Lady Huskies won a narrow, 3-1, victory Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 16, to improve their district record to 11-0 and clinch the 2020 title in District 2A-8.

Pawhuska's overall record improved to 14-4, and the Lady Huskies will host a four-team regional playoff. Before hosting the regional, the Lady Huskies were scheduled to have their last home regular season contest Tuesday, Sept. 22, versus Nowata. It was to be the recognition game for the team's seniors.

Pawhuska Coach Kourtney Herrera said Sept. 16 she anticipates Stroud will be one of the other teams in the regional. She wasn't yet sure which other two teams would be in the tourney.

PHS hurler Zowie Miles held back the Lady Bears until her teammates could score the winning runs Sept. 16 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Miles threw her second complete game in as many days, having pitched a one-hit shutout Tuesday, Sept. 15, in a home win over Caney Valley.

Miles was perfect for three innings against Pawnee, striking out four of the first nine hitters she faced. The Lady Bears touched Miles for a run in the fourth, and had a runner on base in the fifth, but she retired the side. The sixth inning tested Miles' mettle, as the first Pawnee hitter of the frame reached base when a throw got away at first base, and she walked the second hitter.

With two runners on and no outs, the next Pawnee hitter moved them over with a bunt. Then, with runners on second and third with one out, and the score tied at 1-1, Miles proceeded to retire the side. She got the next hitter to lift a harmless pop fly behind first base that Shelby Laird snagged. Then, Miles got the last hitter on a swinging strikeout.

The Lady Huskies opened the scoring in the first inning. The Pawhuska girls came out swinging hard. Shortstop Miya Curry led off with a single to left field, and catcher Nevaeh Taylor drove a double into the gap between right and center fields. Curry scored all the way from first base and it looked like Pawhuska might be off to the races against a Pawnee team that came in with a record of 7-15.

Taylor stole third base and appeared in prime position to help Pawhuska add to its lead, but the Lady Bears turned a double play on a line drive off the bat of Laird to eliminate the immediate threat. Madison Martin and Jordan Nelson followed with hard-hit, two-out singles down the third base line, to give the Lady Huskies another chance to score in the opening inning, but Pawnee then retired the side on a grounder back to the pitcher.

The score remained 1-0 in favor of Pawhuska through the first three innings, Pawnee tied it at 1-1 in the fourth, and the Lady Huskies broke through in the bottom of the sixth for the winning runs.

With one out and a runner on first base, Jaiden Crawford came to the plate for Pawhuska and drove a double over the Pawnee left fielder's head. Pawnee retired the next Lady Huskies hitter, and there were two outs and runners on second and third when Landon McCartney came to bat. McCartney jumped on the first pitch and smacked a single to center to score the runners.

Staked to a 3-1 lead, Miles returned to the mound and retired the Lady Bears one more time.

Coach Herrera said the Lady Huskies had been playing pretty solid defense in recent games, that Miles had been doing really well, and that she was pleased with the performance of Crawford, who has had only a few starts during the season but has made the most of the opportunity to play recently.

"She's stepping in and stepping up, so I'm very proud of her," Herrera said.

The loss Sept. 16 dropped Pawnee to 7-16 for the season. The Lady Bears came into the game riding a three-game winning streak -- their longest of the year -- and they were primed to give the Lady Huskies a run for their money. The Pawhuska girls performed under pressure, however, and took the victory on their home field.