HILLDALE — Despite a scare, the Hilldale Lady Hornets are one win away from a return trip to the state tournament after rallying with a three-run sixth to beat the Inola Lady Longhorns 3-1 on Thursday in the Class 4A regional at Hilldale.
The Lady Hornets (31-5), who defeated Vinita 11-0 in the first game of the regional, will meet the winner of game between Inola (21-14) and Vinita (19-18) at 2 p.m. Inola beat Miami 12-2 in game two of the regional while Vinita eliminated Miami 4-3 in game three.
Hilldale coach Darren Riddle had high praise for the Lady Longhorns.
“Inola is definitely underrated,” he said. “Their pitcher is as good a pitcher as we’ve seen this year. We’ll probably end up playing them again (today).”
The Lady Longhorns, who were the home team, got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning when Kylie Rue drove a grounder past Hilldale shortstop Casady Mills into center field to bring home Sierra Spurlock to make the score 1-0. It looked as though Inola would add another run in the inning when Ashton Stringfellow pushed a single into right field, but Hilldale’s Kenzie Mize threw a strike to Kyla Ibarra at home to gun down Carli Jones to end the inning.
“That got us pumped,” said Hilldale’s Hillary Calvert. “We knew we had a chance and we never gave up.”
Meanwhile, Inola pitcher Lacie Bullard was keeping the Lady Hornets in check, allowing only two runners on base through the first five innings, one of which was Hilldale’s first hit by Destiny Riddle on a single in the fourth inning.
When Mize opened the top of the sixth inning for Hilldale by striking out, it looked like another three-up, three-down frame. But that was when the Lady Hornets found their hitting shoes as Calvert reached on an error, Mills walked and Destiny Riddle sent a shot off the right field wall to score both runners to give the Lady Hornets a 2-1 advantage.