OKLAHOMA CITY – After a two year drought, coach Andy Powell's Dale Lady Pirates took their third Class 2A state title in five years Saturday with a 10-1 win over Silo at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
Powell emphasized the importance of getting ahead early to his girls before the game. They listened.
“We talked about it right as we got off the bus. The last two times we've gotten beat we didn't win the first inning and we won the first inning today,” he said.
Rylie Premo and Sydney Griggs created a dejavu moment from Friday's game to get Dale out on top 4-0 in the bottom of the first and spearhead the victory.
Premo sent a two out double to left field to score Mikayla Rutland, Danyn Lang and Jobey Savage for a 3-0 lead. Griggs singled to drive in Premo and go up 4-0.
The two hits were reminiscent of Dale's 6-5 win over Drumright on Friday, where Premo belted a three run double and was driven in by Griggs to take a 5-3 lead in the fifth.
“Rylie has been ice through her veins for the last three or four days... we arguably probably lose if she doesn't get that double yesterday and then for her to do that in the first inning and us win the first inning, it was a big help to winning this game,” Powell said.
Getting ahead early not only gave the offense momentum, but helped ease things up for pitcher Delanie Manning.
“We started these first two games coming into the state tournament behind and coming from behind, it's so much pressure on you. When you start off ahead and you get runners on your pitcher is relieved,” she said.
The girls rallied with another five runs in the third as Skyler Thompson and London Calvillo each hit two-run singles and Rutland reached on an error to bring in Calvillo.
Gracie Lawless singled in the top of the fourth and later scored as Cherish Huffman reached on an error for Silo's only run of the game.
The Lady Rebels put two runners in scoring position with one out in the second to have a chance to cut into Dale's lead early but left both stranded. Lawless hit a sacrifice to center to try and score Kensea Eppler from third, but a quick catch and throw from Lacey Savage to Rutland at catcher forced Eppler to retreat.
Premo was 2-4 with three RBIs and Calvillo was 2-4 and drove in two runs to lead the Lady Pirates offense. Thompson drove in two runs in one at bat.
Eppler, Danielle Hayden, and Alys Parr earned two hits apiece for Silo. The Lady Rebels went through four hurlers in the loss.
Alexis Tanguma got the start in the circle and was handed the loss after giving up nine runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings pitched. She fanned two and walked three. Jo Arlington gave up two hits and one run before being retired. Huffman tossed for two innings and Olivia Powell closed things out.
Manning sat down four, walked two and gave up 10 hits to earn the pitching win. Working with a tight strike zone, the performance was arguably her best of the three day stretch. Powell knew she was going to have a solid game before they ever made it to the field.
“I saw her warming up before the game and I went, 'She's got it,' and she had it,” he said.
The Lady Pirates finished the season 39-1 and go into an elite class with Dale's 2003, 2013 and 2014 teams as state fast pitch champions – the 2015 and 2016 teams both made it to the finals but finished as runner-up.
“Runner-up stinks, so you don't want to get in that pattern of saying that you can't win it,” Powell said. “So [the win] was big. We felt like we had the best team and they came out and showed it today.”
Manning wasn't feeling well during the game, but her sister Dani, who she played alongside the last two years before graduating and going to OBU, helped her refocus.
“[She motivated] me a little bit and got me excited that last inning, I was like, 'I've gotta go do what I've done the whole game, this whole year. It's gonna pay off and I have to go get it done,' ” Delanie said.
Dale will return in the spring to attempt a repeat in the slow pitch season where they finished as state champions last year.