Editor's note: The Progress was unaware of Claremore coach Keeli Coyle's change in marital status earlier this year and has referred to her by her maiden name, Garroutte, throughout the season. Sports editor Kevin Green apologizes for the confusion.
OKLAHOMA CITY – It took Claremore a while to get going, but once it did it never looked back.
The Lady Zebras used a big fourth inning to pull away from Tahlequah, winning 8-1 in the first round of the Class 5A softball state tournament Thursday.
Jadyn Muns drove in the afternoon’s first run on a sacrifice fly. That brought in Abbey Hagen to give the Lady Zebras a slim 1-0 lead after three innings. The floodgates would open shortly.
Emily Rogers led off the fourth inning with a single, eventually becoming one of four runs scored in the inning. After Julia Hoffman got on with a single of her own and pitcher Alyssa Poorboy was walked, the bases were loaded.
Leadoff hitter Paiten Reavis stepped to the plate and drilled a ball back toward the left field fence for a 2-RBI double. She scored shortly after that when Muns brought her in with her second sacrifice fly of the day.
“It was a little bit of different pitching than we had seen at regionals,” coach Keeli Coyle said. “But after once through the lineup I felt like we did a really good job adjusting.”
The Lady Zebras also got a good amount of help from their defense.
Poorboy started and pitched a full game to earn the win. The Tahlequah hitters were having trouble locating her pitches in the right spot. She gave up only two hits all game and finished with 5 strikeouts – including the game-clinching one.
The play behind her as just as good.
Muns made an impressive grab in the first inning after colliding with one of her teammates while chasing a fly ball. She still managed to catch the ball securing the out and ending the inning.
Coyle said when her outfielders are playing like that, it only makes the pitcher more comfortable.
“Our pitcher probably had one of the best outings she had,” Coyle said. “The big thing I tell her before every game is she just needs to relax because she’s got a great defense behind her. We’ve kind of made plays like that all year. They should have communicated on that one in the first inning, but I’m good with effort. They did what had to be done and made the play.”
After the slow start, Claremore looked anything but nervous. It was a dominating performance from a team with no state tournament experience on its roster.
The Zebras will look to keep it going when they face Carl Albert at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The Lady Titans defeated Guymon 18-0 in the quarterfinals.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Coyle said. “The biggest thing was they didn’t look nervous or scared. They just hopped out there and acted like this is where they’re supposed to be.”