Call it short, sweet, and sort’a sassy.
The Claremore Lady Zebras wrapped up the 2017 regular softball season with an 8-0 victory over Tulsa Bishop Kelley here Monday evening.
Kaleigh Schumacher took care of the short and sweet factor by pitching a five-inning no-hitter.
It was the final tune up before Claremore (18-17) heads to Durant later this week for the double elimination Class 5A regional tournament. It starts Thursday.
Providing the sassy part were double “7s” added up by the Zebra batters. The eight runs were scored as the Claremore lineup punched out seven base hits along with seven hitters also getting aboard the bases by waiting out walks.
Reagan Jordan scored the game ending eighth run on a single by Holland Rader. It came with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning and ended the contest on the run rule. Jordan was on base after hitting a pinch hit single.
Once past the opening inning, the Lady Zebras had little trouble tilting the scoreboard in their favor.
Alexis Williams banged a first-pitch single in the second inning to score designated runner Kearnie Johnson and Alyssa Poorboy. With two outs, Schumacher and Poorboy walked to set up the run opportunity. Johnson had replaced the Zebra pitcher once she reached base.
In the fourth frame, Claremore tacked on two more runs. Singles by Hannah Rackleff and Zowie Davis along with walks issued to Rader and Schumacher pushed the runners around the bases. Rader scored on a Davis single and Rackleff did likewise on a fielding choice ball put in play by Poorboy.
Claremore’s junior hurler singled once and walked twice, but it was her work in the pitching circle that grabbed the spotlight. She struck out seven (there’s that number again) while not allowing a hit and retired the final eight outs in a row.
Two Kelley hitters walked and a third reach base on an error. This was the only blemish on Schumacher’s performance; a slight blemish at that.
The visitors’ leadoff batter waited out the first Schumacher base on balls. She should have been as patient once on base. The second batter put down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner. The pitcher jumped on the bunt and threw to Kayla Shisler for the out at first base.
Instead of stopping at second the Comet runner headed on to third base. Shisler’s throw across the infield to Poorboy at third beat the runner by three steps. Claremore had a double play.
The game’s most outstanding catch came in the Kelley fourth. A towering fly ball appeared to be headed to the base of the right field fence. Instead of being a sure fire double or more and ending the no-hitter bid, the ball instead ended up in Hailey Barnes outstretched glove at the very last moment.
Durant regional moved back
Due to rain in the Durant area, the 5A regional softball tournament will be played on Thursday and Friday. Claremore will open with McAlester at 12 p.m. with the winner taking on Durant at 2 p.m. An elimination game will be at noon Friday between the loser of game one and the loser of game two. The regional championship will be at 2 p.m. Saturday with an “if necessary” game at 4 p.m.
Returning to glory
The Lady Zebras’ 18 wins are the most for the program since the 2013 team that finished 27-10. That was also the last time the Lady Zebras advanced to the state tournament.
The last two seasons in Class 6A, Claremore was 12-23 in 2016 and 15-16 in 2015. In 2014, playing in 5A, they were 10-23.
That 2013 team made an epic comeback through regionals. After beating Memorial 22-0, they lost to McAlester 2-0. After surviving against Skiatook 10-2, they needed to beat McAlester twice to qualify for state. They did with 4-2 and 1-0 wins.
The Zebras beat Duncan 3-0 in the state opener, but fell to Deer Creek 3-1 in the state semifinals.