FIRELAKE – Bethel toppled Sallisaw 10-2 and lost a close game to Duncan 2-1 Saturday to come out of the Shawnee Tournament with a 2-3 tournament record. With the pool of talent at the tournament, coach Chad Smith was not displeased with how his girls performed.
“I feel like this weekend we actually are still moving forward. We finished 2-3 for the weekend... The effort is there. There were a lot of pitching duels this weekend. I'm not faulting our kids, I think we played well and playing in a tournament against so many upper class teams, 5A teams, I felt like we held our own,” Smith said.
The Lady Wildcats got out ahead early against Sallisaw with an RBI double from Maylin Hladik set up on an Avery Epperly triple to take a 1-0 lead.
The girls extended their lead, scoring one run in each of the next three innings before going on 3-run rallies in the fifth and sixth, including a 3-run shot from Ryann Baxter in the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Zoe Rayner and Karlie Lamb ended the game on run-rule.
Baxter went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run and scored twice to lead the offense. Rayner went 3-4 and scored two runs Hladik went 3-4 with one run scored.
The Lady Wildcats held Duncan scoreless through the first two innings, but an error with two outs followed by a 2-run shot in the third dropped them behind 2-0. Hladik and the defense held the Lady Demons from there, but the offense could never get going.
Rian Gamble singled to lead off the sixth, was advanced on a single from Epperly and eventually brought home by Rayner to cut Duncan's lead in half. The girls had a few opportunities to score earlier and tie up the game, but Duncan's gloves found the ball on too many occasions.
Hladik scattered five hits and walked one in the loss.
Prior to the tournament, Duncan was undefeated, but at the conclusion they finished the weekend with the same 2-3 record as the Lady Wildcats.
Smith said his girls have made big improvements since the start of the season to be able to contend against the Demons.
“From where we started to where we are now, I think we've made some really great strides. I think our hitting is coming along, defensively we're making plays and our pitching is in the strike zone consistently,” he said.
With a little more than a month left in the regular season, Smith expects to see more advances and has confidence in his girls to make a strong push through the postseason.
“I see us going deep in the playoffs to be honest with you, that's our goal for now is to just go as far as we can and hopefully that will see us in the state tournament,” he said.
The Lady Wildcats travel to Okmulgee Tuesday.