Lady Cougars rally to nab historic first state victory

Brian Johnson
The Shawnee News-Star
The North Rock Creek Lady Cougars celebrate their first state tournament win Thursday after defeating Tishomingo 8-5.
North Rock Creek's Morgan Campbell (15) drives the ball to right field for a single Thursday against Tishomingo in the first round of the Class 3A State Fast Pitch Softball Tournament at the USA Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The North Rock Creek Lady Cougars came out of Thursday's first-ever state tournament appearance gratified.

But they certainly weren't satisfied.

North Rock Creek, behind a four-run fifth inning, rallied to defeat the Tishomingo Lady Indians 8-5 in the opening round of the Class 3A State Fast Pitch Softball Tournament at the USA Softball Hall of Fame and Complex.

The victory advanced the 31-7 Lady Cougars to Friday's state semifinals at 11 a.m.

“We aren't satisfied on the first round. We have our sites set on more,” said North Rock Creek head coach Chance Griffin.

NRC jumped out to a 3-0 advantage through three innings, saw Tishomingo tally a single run in the fourth and add four more in the fifth before the Lady Cougars retaliated.

“I was waiting to see how we would respond. We had two or three big hits we strung together...two-out base hits,” Griffin said. “This team grinds and grinds.”

Something that has become somewhat of a trademark of the team.

“It's really, really big. We have scored 8 or 10 runs with two outs,” said Griffin. “It seems like we perform better when we are in tough situations.”

It was indeed tough when the Lady Indians staged their four-run top of the fifth to go up 5-3. But the Lady Cougars weren't to be denied.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Morgan Campbell singled through the left side of the infield. Two batters later, Hannah Earlywine drew a walk. That set the table for Caty Baack's RBI single to right-center to pull NRC within 5-4.

Sarah Campbell followed with an RBI single of her own to left field, tying it up at 5-5. Then came the difference-maker. Raynee Bass, who had flied out in her two previous plate appearances, drilled a two-run single to plate two more runs to make it 7-5.

The Lady Cougars then capped off the game's scoring when winning pitcher Hailey Hacker hit a shot to right field, pass a diving right fielder and ended up getting a thrilling inside-the-park home run.

NRC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first off a pair of unearned runs. Katie Larson and Earlywine had back-to-back RBI singles after the first two Lady Cougars – Hacker and Morgan Campbell – reached on errors. Morgan Campbell was credited with a sacrifice bunt on her appearance to help the Lady Cougar cause.

In the third, Morgan Campbell had a leadoff single but was caught stealing. Larson then singled up the middle. Then with two outs, Baack picked up her first RBI of the day by smashing a double to left-center to make it 3-0.

Three NRC players finished with multiple hits. Baack went 2-for-3 with her two runs batted in. Morgan Campbell was also 2-for-3 with her sacrifice bunt and Larson ended up 2-for-4 with her run-scoring single in the first and another single in the third.

Bass had the two runs batted in off her single in the third in going 1-for-3. Sarah Campbell was 1-for-3 as well with her RBI during the Lady Cougars' big four-run fifth. Earlywine (1-for-2 with a walk) had the run-scoring single in the first.

Hacker allowed the five runs, all earned, off eight hits with one walk and a strikeout in recording the pitching win.

Jayden Anderson was 2-for-3 and scored a pair of runs for Tishomingo. Teammate Trista Barrett drove home two runs on a triple in the fourth.