Special to The Sun
SHAWNEE — The Deer Creek Antlers came up against both the irresistible force and the immovable object in the Class 5A state championship softball game Saturday afternoon. The Carl Albert bats were unresting, banging out 13 runs on 11 hits and 5 walks, while Titans starting pitcher Abby Meador no-hit the Antlers in the five-inning, run-rule shortened game, striking out 7 and walking 5 to spark Carl Albert to a 13-0 win.
Meador came in 29-0 on the season, with 282 strikeouts to 62 walks. She had allowed only 15 earned runs in 168 innings.
“She’s a tough pitcher,” Deer Creek head coach Erin Regier said of the Carl Albert starter. “She did a great job. I feel like our pitching probably wasn’t where it needed to be today.”
Things started off with a bang for the Titans when Morgan Heard launched the first pitch of the ball game over the left field fence. Antlers starter Molly Mabry settled down after that, inducing the next three batters into fly-ball outs. The Antlers went down in order in their half of the inning,
The Titans tacked on two more in the second, and the Antlers had two runners reach on walks but failed to advance them.
In the third, the wheels came off for Deer Creek. Meador tripled to start the inning, the next batter reached on a fielder’s choice and a single allowed both to score. Two walks, a pair of singles, a double, a couple of fielder’s choices and a dropped third strike later, the Titans had put up 8 runs in the inning to take an 11-0 lead.
After the Antlers could get nothing going in their end of the third, relief pitcher Emily Watson, who came on in the midst of the third inning, closed out the Titans’ fourth inning with only a walk. Deer Creek again put a pair on the base paths due to walks in the fourth, but again failed to score.
Carl Albert capitalized on DC fielding miscues in the fifth to score two more runs and go up by the final margin. Deer Creek went down in order and the game ended on the run rule.
“… We didn’t bring our best game today and Carl Albert did,” Regier said after the game. “There’s nothing we can really do about it, but somewhere down the road, it’ll build character.
“I think a lot of people counted us out, didn’t think we’d play for the state championship, but here we are. We just didn’t bring our best game today.”
Deer Creek came into the game at 23-6, tops in District 5A-1, after beating Collinsville 3-2 and Claremore 3-1 in the early rounds of the state tournament.
Carl Albert entered the showdown 28-1, leading District 5A-4, after topping Lawton MacArthur 8-1 and Tahlequah 11-4 in the quarters and semifinals.
The Titans’ only loss came at home to Deer Creek on Aug. 29, when the Antlers broke open a 2-1 game with 7 runs in the sixth inning against a relief pitcher. Carl Albert later avenged that loss with a 7-0 win over the Antlers at a tournament in Shawnee.