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Miscues plague Dale in fourth inning of state finals loss to Latta

Brian Johnson
The Shawnee News-Star
Dale's Anna Hester lays down a bunt-single against Latta Saturday in the Class 2A State Fastpitch Tournament championship game at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY – It's not often that teams get a little opening and take advantage of the Dale Lady Pirates.

But that was the case Saturday at Hall of Fame Stadium in the championship game of the Class 2A State Fastpitch Tournament as the fourth-ranked Latta Lady Panthers held on for a 5-3 victory, giving second-ranked Dale its second straight state finals loss.

The Lady Pirates lost in the 2019 title game to Silo and Latta avenged a come-from-behind semifinal loss to Dale in the 2019 tournament.

The Lady Panthers seized an opportunity in the fourth inning and gathered all of its five runs with the help of a leadoff passed ball on a strikeout to go along with three hits and a couple of Lady Pirate errors.

“I thought we were really the best defensive team here, but the errors in the fourth inning cost us,” said Dale head coach Andy Powell. “We didn't get one hit with a runner in scoring position and we left eight on the bases. When you face a team as good as that one, you've got to be better.”

Latta junior pitcher Jade Sanders kept the Lady Pirates in check most of the game, giving up the three runs – a single score each in the first, fifth and sixth innings. Sanders also registered five strikeouts and surrendered just one walk. Sanders also helped her own cause at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double.

Meanwhile, Dale ace and junior right-hander Addie Bell pitched well enough to win as the five Latta runs were unearned. She allowed only seven hits and had the one strikeout on the passed ball. She gave up three walks, one of which was intentional.

“Addie Bell pitched her butt off,” Powell said.

A bulk of the Lady Pirate hits came from just three players, two of whom were playing in their final high school fastpitch game. Senior catcher Danyn Lang, batting in the No. 2 spot, finished 2-for-3 with a double and a bunt single while senior center fielder Anna Hester laid down two nifty bunt singles in also going 2-for-3.

Leadoff and sophomore second baseman Makenzy Herman was 2-for-4 and scored two of the three Dale runs. Junior right fielder Sam Hartman and sophomore designated player were each had 1-for-3 efforts from the plate.

The Lady Pirate senior class of Jayci Powell, Emilia Idleman, Lang, Karleigh Landreth and Hester were playing in their fourth straight fastpitch championship game.

“All five of them have never not played in the finals. They won in the finals as freshmen and sophomores, but not as juniors and seniors,” said Andy Powell. “It's especially hard (not winning the championship game) when one of them is your daughter.”

Jayci Powell was unable to play due to an injury.

Dale jumped out to a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the first when Herman smashed a single which deflected off the glove of Sanders in the circle. After a stolen base and passed ball, Herman then scored off Lang's sacrifice fly caught in foul territory in deep left field.

That 1-0 lead stood up until the wheels came off the wagon for the Lady Pirates in the fourth.

Dale scratched back with a single run each in the fifth and sixth innings.

In the fifth, Caram had her leadoff single through the right side of the infield. Herman followed with a single to left and Lang executed a bunt-single to load up the bases. After a fly-out, Idleman reached base on a fielder's choice, but Landreth, courtesy running for Carman, was thrown out at the plate on a force-out.

Bell then picked up an RBI when she drew a bases-loaded walk.

The other Lady Pirate run came in the sixth when Hester had her second bunt-single with one out. She ultimately stole second and then came home on a dropped fly ball in the outfield. It was the Lady Panthers' only error of the game.

Brylea Russell and Laraby Jennings collected two hits each for Latta, which ended the season at 34-6.

Dale concluded its season at 36-5.