Scanning the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association Website can be a daunting job this time of the school year if you are a media member trying to make sure you don’t overlook a team or even an individual at the many competitions slated over the next couple of weeks.
And while some things remain consistent like seeing Fort Cobb-Broxton and Roff primed for another run at a Class B State baseball title, there are changes brewing in one sport in particular and it’s pleasing to see.
Slow-pitch softball is starting to draw more and more attention and when the tournaments begin yesterday at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex there were six area teams in the field chasing titles in four classifications.
The bulk of those teams are in 2A where Central High, Cyril and Sterling have qualified and since they are scattered across the bracket there is a good chance one of those teams could make it to the finals. Those first-round games are scheduled today with the Lady Tigers facing Canute at 10 a.m. on Field No. 3 at the ASA Complex. Central High and Cyril will also play at 10 a.m. today with the Bronchos facing top-seeded Shattuck on the main field, or the OG&E Field as it is known. Cyril will face Union City on Field No. 2.
Also in the slow-pitch softball brackets area teams in the field were Cache in Class 5A, Apache in Class 3A, and Mt. View-Gotebo in Class B. Cache knew it would be a challenge facing a high seed and it was just that as Tecumseh rolled to a 15-5 victory to oust the Bulldogs Tuesday. Mt. View-Gotebo had a similar outcome Tuesday as the Tigers lost an 8-1 decision to Leedey.
Apache will open at 11:30 a.m. today against top-seeded Caddo so the Lady Warriors are going to need to get off to a good start and play the type of tough defense that has helped them advance this far.
All of the softball games will be completed by late today as the OSSAA has pushed that schedule up in part because finding umpiring crews is getting tougher and since many of them work softball and baseball, the OSSAA is trying to aid the problem by adjusting schedules of slow-pitch and baseball.
And speaking of both those sports, Sterling is one of the few schools that qualified both softball and baseball teams in the field and with the baseball not starting until Thursday that will give the Sterling baseball fans time to hopefully see several softball games before heading to Edmond North Thursday for a first-round battle with Tushka in the Class A baseball state tournament at 4 p.m. Sterling boys are the lone area team in the Class A bracket this season where Rattan is the top seed and Canute is considered another top contender.
Sterling boys are 24-4 this season and for Jayson Wilson’s crew the losses have been to tough programs, losing twice to Canute, 5-3, and 8-4, Roff (5-0), and Pioneer-Pleasantville (8-3) in the first round of the regional. The Tigers bounced back to win three straight including a 17-5 win over Pioneer-Pleasantville in the “if” game.
Rattan is ranked No. 1 and is the top seed and will play Caddo at 11 a.m. Thursday at Edmond North. Canute is the No. 2 seed at 22-6 and will face Laverne at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Edmond North.
“I feel pretty good about our chances,” Wilson said. “I feel like we have four good pitchers but the two who have really done well are Riley Lile and Jayden Huitt.
“This was a crazy year with all the rain and cold weather but those two guys, they never let those things bother them. They are bulldogs out there on the mound. They make adjustments and just get the ball up there and throw strikes and get people out.”
The Tigers have also played solid defense and against the tough schedule they’ve played you need that.
“We have played some good teams; we got Canute in our tournament and we went up there and won that Am-Po tournament with those 3A and 2A teams.”
While the offense wasn’t getting production at a time, that changed at mid-season.
“Nate Anderson and Tyler Pierce were not hitting the ball early like we expected but once they got going we became a lot different offensive club,” Wilson said. “ We also have a good deal of speed and we can put pressure on teams. We feel good about our chances up there.”
In Class B baseball Fort Cobb-Broxton is seeded No. 2 and will face Vici at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Edmond Santa Fe. The Mustangs’ old rival Roff is seeded No. 1 and will play Kiowa at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Edmond Santa Fe.
Fort Cobb-Broxton claimed the fall title and is eager to take the rare sweep in baseball. And as added incentive, most of the Mustangs were vital parts of the Mustangs’ state championship basketball team in March so the thought of getting three state championship rings is a school year is pretty rare indeed.
Big schools enter regional action
While the smaller schools are already competing for state titles this week, for Classes 2A through 6A this marks regionals week and most of the area teams are having to hit the road and will be facing some tough competition.
Elgin probably has the best shot at making it to the State Class 5A Baseball Tournament as the Owls are hosting a four-team West Regional beginning Thursday with the O’s meeting Oklahoma City Southeast at 11 a.m. Altus and Guthrie battle at 1:30 p.m. in the second game. Those formats include four games Thursday, two more on Friday and an “if” game Saturday depending on how the results turn out.
MacArthur and Eisenhower are both on the road and both face challenging assignments. Ike will face McGuinness at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Noble Regional while the hosts face Guymon at 11 a.m. in the first game. Noble has the advantage of holding back Colin Fisher on the mound because with him pitching the Bears are almost impossible to beat.
MacArthur will be heading north to Piedmont for its 5A Regional and the Highlanders will meet El Reno at 1:30 p.m. in the second game. Piedmont faces Santa Fe South and that means the hosts will be able to throw just about any pitcher on their staff and advance and that gives them a huge advantage.
Duncan rounds out the area 5A schools and the Demons have been assigned to the Carl Albert Regional and will face Del City at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Carl Albert will meet Ardmore at 11 a.m. and while the Tigers have long had a good baseball program, that is no longer the case and that title showdown may very well come down to Carl Albert and Duncan.
Lawton High School faces the toughest shot in rugged 6A with the Wolverines drawing the No. 1 seeded Deer Creek-Edmond on the Antlers’ home field at 11 a.m. Thursday. Putnam City and Edmond Santa Fe round out that tough regional field.
There is one area team in each of the lower classes with Marlow in a 4A regional, Comanche in a 3A regional and Walters in a 2A regional.
Marlow will face Kingfisher Thursday at 1:30 p.m. right after host Tuttle faces Harrah at 11 a.m.
Comanche is playing at Oklahoma Christian School and the Indians will face No. 2-seed Bethel at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Walters will drive a good distance to Oktaha where the Blue Devils will face second-seeded Ketchum and play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Oktaha faces Watonga in the 11 a.m. contest.
Golf gets busy today
There will be some Lawton-area teams and players competing in the Girls State Golf Championships starting today.
The 5A players will get tested by famed Dornick Hills in Ardmore and MacArthur, Duncan, Altus and Elgin each have their full teams qualified and ready to see how they can handle that tough course. Eisenhower had one individual qualify, that being Avery Gardner.
The 4A girls state will be at Prairie West today and Thursday and while there are no area teams in the field, Cache’s Haley Carter will be fighting for individual honors.
Marlow girls are chasing honors at the 3A state at Lake Murray Golf Course and Comanche’s Aspen Loafman is in the individual field.
The 2A girls will be held at Falconhead with Empire the only area team in the field. Frederick did qualify Abbigal Archer and Megan Mitchell while Big Pasture will be represented by Kelsey Baber.
Track coming up this weekend
There will be plenty of top athletes competing this weekend at the first of the state track meets with A and 2A competing Friday and Saturday at Western Heights while at Ardmore it will be 3A and 4A competing for team and individual honors.
The final track meet matches the best 5A and 6A teams on May 12 and 13 at Yukon High School.
if you plan on getting out and supporting your local athletes, remember you can go to the OSSAA Website and get advance tickets or purchase them at the gates.