LARRY LARKIN

Progress Correspondent



CATOOSA — High school football has "Remember the Titans."

High school basketball has "Hoosiers."

If the movie people in Hollywood need a high school softball team to follow this trend, the Claremore Lady Zebras certainly fit the bill.

Down to their last strike and facing the possibility of having to play a third straight game, Claremore scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to shock host Catoosa, 3-2, Wednesday in the opening day of the Class 5A regional tournament.

Holding off McAlester, 2-1, in an earlier contest, Claremore is one victory away from earning a berth in next week's state tournament. The Lady Zebras will face Catoosa again at 5 p.m. Thursday. Catoosa eliminated McAlester, 10-2, to advance.

Should Catoosa defeat Claremore, a second game would follow immediately.

Zebra pitcher Erin Glover, down 2-0 from the first inning against Catoosa, never quit. She retired the final 16 batters. Except for a walk in the second inning, it would have been 19 in order.

"I didn't realize I had that many in a row, but I know my teammates and never doubted they would pull it out," Glover said. "My pitching coach tells me to relax and let the defense back me up."

In a game marred by several disputed umpire calls, the outcome went to the wire.

It appeared the top-seeded Lady Indians had a 2-1 victory wrapped up when pitcher Jessica Bledsoe struck out the first two Zebra batters in the seventh.

The final out never came.

Bailey Winters had two strikes on her when she singled to right, and Brittany Tull reached when she drilled a hard grounder back to Bledsoe in the circle.

D.J. Simpson walked on a 3-2 pitch. When the fourth ball skipped past catcher Jordan Brown, Winters raced home and avoided the tag to tie the score at 2-2.

Claremore fans believed Winters was safe.

Catoosa fans thought Brown tagged Winters to end the game.

The Catoosa fans already were upset with home umpire Bill Masters because they thought he failed to call a third strike on Simpson two pitches earlier.

Amid the confusion at home over the tying run, Simpson didn't quit running until she reached second.

With Tull at third, Simpson at second, and first base open, Catoosa coach Todd Henshaw intentionally walked Jordan Ford, who had singled twice.

What was suppose to be ball three wasn't wide enough. Ford swung and the game's winning hit landed behind third base, allowing Tull to score standing up.

"I couldn't believe the ball was coming that close," Ford said. "I swung and hit it and then watched it before realizing I had to run to first base. When I touched the base, I just started crying. It was unbelievable."

A pair of first-inning errors put the Zebras in an early hole.

Glover, who pitched the final two innings against McAlester, struck out Hannah Justus to start the second game. A dropped third strike and low throw allowed her reach first, however.

Catoosa, the "visiting team," took a fast lead as Jordan Brown tripled to right. She scored when Brittany Powers was safe on an error at first base.

Three batters and Catoosa was on top, 2-0.

Even the movie people couldn't top Glover's performance from that point on. The only other Catoosa batter to reach base would be Jessica Lowe with a walk in the second inning. Glover struck out only four, but received the defensive help she expected.

Zebra shortstop Simpson threw out seven to Whitney Hocutt at first base. Only one ball was hit to the outfield after Brown's triple.

Claremore was limited to a lone single, by Glover, in the first three innings. The Zebras, who out-hit Catoosa 10-1, finally appeared to have it going in the fourth.

Tull and Simpson each singled and Ford followed with a double. Instead of a tie score, only Simpson scored, however. Tull, trying to steal third, was thrown out by Brown.

Claremore missed an opportunty in sixth, loading the bases with no outs. But all three were stranded.

This only set the stage for final inning.

A two-run single by Simpson in the third inning was enough to tame McAlester in the first game, but not before another nifty job turned in by Glover.

Brittany Scott was Claremore's starting pitcher and earned the victory. She allowed just three hits, two leading to McAlester's run in the fourth.

When Scott failed to retire the first two batters in the sixth, Zebra coach Tony Winefield turned to Glover.

She quickly turned out the lights.

She got a ground out to second and fly ball to right. A walk to load the bases was followed by a strikeout.

She put down McAlester in order in the seventh.

Entering the regional, the Zebra coaching staff was not planning to pitch Glover. Winefield said he wanted to start Scott in the opener and follow with Keeli Garroutte in the second round. Between games, he still planned to go with Garroutte, but when the lineup was turned in, Garroutte was listed at third base. She played center against McAlester.

"We haven't won anything yet," the Zebra coach cautioned. "We still need to come back Thursday and win. I like our chances. Tonight's come-from-behind win is so much like last year."

As things turned out Wednesday, all three teams played two games each. Had Catoosa (now 24-13) defeated Claremore (23-18), the Lady Indians would have advanced straight to Thursday's championship contest. A defeat in their second game would have forced the Lady Zebras to turn right around and play a third game with McAlester.

This turn of events was caused by the failure of Oklahoma City Marshall to fill out the bracket. The team reportedly folded during the season due to a lack of players. Regional tournament fields usually have four teams.



CLAREMORE 2, McALESTER 1

Claremore 002 000 0 — 2 4 0

McAlester 000 100 0 — 1 4 2

Scott, Glover (6) and Chanley. Trammel and Boyle. W — Scott. L — Trammel.



CLAREMORE 3, CATOOSA 2

Catoosa 200 000 0 — 2 1 1

Claremore 000 100 2 — 3 10 2

Glover and Chanley. T.Brown, Bledsoe and J.Brown. W — Glover. L — Bledsoe.

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