North Rock Creek falls short in 3A state finals

Brian Johnson
The Shawnee News-Star
The North Rock Creek Lady Cougars pose with their state runner-up trophy on Saturday.
Haley Hacker leads off the game by smashing this home run against Dewey Friday in the semifinals.

OKLAHOMA CITY - North Rock Creek's 'Cinderella Run' in its first state appearance fell just short Saturday in the championship game of the Class 3A State Fast Pitch Softball Tournament.

Washington pounded out 12 hits and limited the Lady Cougars to four in registering a 10-0 win via the run rule in six innings on OG&E Field at USA Hall of Fame Stadium.

“Washington really put on a hitting clinic in this entire tournament,” said NRC head coach Chance Griffin, turning to his Lady Cougar squad. “But this has been a fun group. They root each other on and they want what's best for each other. What they were building on is more than just softball. Teamwork has been good. Teammates were wanting good for each other and there was a lack of selfishness.”

The Lady Cougars' lone starting senior and third baseman Jayden Haney was a critical part of that.

“It all started with our seniors, especially Jayden Haney,” Griffin said.

Haney makes history as she will be the first player to come out of the young program and play collegiately. She is headed to Eastern Oklahoma State College to continue her education and playing career.

NRC, which was ineligible to compete in the playoffs last season in its first year as a varsity program, made the most of its first appearance after downing Tishomingo in the opening round on Thursday and following that up with a 6-2 decision over Dewey Friday in the semifinals.

“We had a bunch of new faces on the team, including freshmen. I think they really played with a chip on their shoulder and took it to heart,” said Griffin, concerning his team being left out of the playoffs last fall.

The Lady Cougars ended the season at 32-8.

Washington 10, NRC 0 (Saturday)

The Lady Cougars had some opportunities, leaving two runners on in the second inning, getting caught twice in rundowns on the same play in the third inning and having two runners in scoring position with no outs and coming up empty in the fifth.

A shallow fly-out and liner hit by Morgan Campbell to the third baseman and step on third for double play ended the best threat in the fifth.

NRC's four hits on the day came from Morgan Campbell and Olivia VanAntwerp with a double apiece and Sarah Campbell and Katie Larson with a single each.

Maggie Place, the Washington hurler, held the Lady Cougars in check with three strikeouts and surrendering only four walks.

Abby Wood, battling in the No. 2 spot for the Lady Warriors, was 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and a pair of runs scored. Wood was robbed of a 4-for-4 effort when Caty Baack laid out for a diving catch near the foul line in left field

Place finished 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, double and RBI groundout and teammate Mikinzy Bost ended up 2-for-4 with three doubles and one RBI. Mattie Richardson also had a 2-for-3 effort with a bunt-single and run-scoring single for the winners.

Washington scored two in the second inning, two in the third and one each in the fourth and fifth before tallying four in the top of the sixth.

Haley Hacker took the loss after giving up the 10 hits, striking out two and walking two. Larsen pitched in relief in the sixth.

NRC 6, Dewey 2 (Friday)

Base hits and execution enabled the Lady Cougars to conquer Dewey in the semifinals.

Hacker had a solid pitching effort, scattering eight hits, allowing no walks and striking out two.

Meanwhile the NRC offense produced 15 hits, including three each from Hacker, Hannah Earlywine and Raynee Bass.

Hacker led off the game with a solo-blast to right field. She also had an infield single in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth in finishing 3-for-4 with two runs batted in.

Earlywine and Bass were each 3-for-4 with three singles.

The Lady Cougars also received a 2-for-2 performance from Haney, who had one RBI off one of her two sacrifice bunts.

Larson and Sarah Campbell also drove home a run apiece and Morgan Campbell brought home a run on a sacrifice fly.

NRC jumped out to a 2-0 advantage after Hacker's leadoff homer, followed by Morgan Campbell's double to left-center and Larson's double to right-center.

It stayed that way until the fourth when the Lady Doggers tied it up. Katie Wright doubled with two outs and scored off a Briley Davis two-run homer to left-center.

But a big sixth and seventh, in which the Lady Cougars scored two each in those frames, led to the victory.

In the sixth, Bass and Haney led off with back-to-back singles and each moved up a base on Olivia VanAntwerp's sacrifice bunt. That was followed by an RBI single down the right-field line by Hacker and Morgan Campbell's sacrifice fly to left, making it 4-2.

The final two tallies came in the sixth after Earlywine led off with a single to center, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt and Sarah Campbell delivered a run-scoring single to make it 5-0. After a Bass single, Haney executed a squeeze bunt which brought home the sixth and final run.