Deer Creek’s softball team has clinched consecutive regional titles after the Antlers won three required elimination games Thursday.
It’s the second time in as many years that the Creek will move on to the Class 6A State Tournament, after they made it to the state semifinals last October.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our girls,” Deer Creek head coach Lacy Darity said after the win. “Our backs were definitely against the wall, and we told the girls we were going to find out what we were made of. We knew it would be tough, but we told them if we could beat them once, we weren’t going to be losing the second game.”
Deer Creek’s day culminated sitting in a 4-all tie to Yukon later Thursday afternoon. The Antlers already used four home runs to best Putnam City earlier in Thursday’s bracket, before rallying through Yukon 4-1 in the day’s noon-time game.
They even had a mirrored, 4-1 lead early, too, after a quartet of Antler runners crossed home to break into Yukon.
Now, though, after Millers runs tromped home in the second and fourth, everything was evens before Shayleigh Odom drew a full-count walk to leadoff the top of the seventh inning.
The speedy Odom then was granted steal credit on both second and third base, before Ava Farris took her second pitch to center field. The sacrifice fly bought enough time for Odom — the go ahead run — to romp home.
Odom had suffered a tweak before she was the decider in Thursday’s winner-take-all contest, sidelining her for a game in Wednesday’s opening games. Darity said Odom’s speedy, opportunistic running was just a testament to how hard she competes.
“Shayleigh came up huge for us,” she said. “She was able to gut it out, and when she got on we decided we were playing to win and thought we could have success stealing her.
Fortunately, it worked out, and freshman Ava Farris stepped up and hit a crucial sac fly to score her.”
🔵⚫️STATE BOUND!!!!🔵⚫️Your Deer Creek Antlers Softball team is headed back to the 6A State Tournament after defeating Yukon 6-4 in the Regional final!! Thank you to all of the fans who came out today, you were AMAZING! Hope to see you at State!!💙🦌🥎— DC Softball (@dc_softball) October 11, 2019
Another Yukon error then led to another Deer Creek run — this time for insurance — when Macy Stockton reached on an error from the Yukon infield. Stockton already had a hit in the game, and she led the Deer Creek team with three hits in their earlier win against the same Yukon team at noon. Now, Stockton’s troubling ground ball meant she ended up on third. Stockton ultimately came home on a wild pitch.
The two runs were more than enough for pitcher Caitlyn Wells, who choked out the Millers by rattling off a 1-2-3 inning. In total, Wells entered in relief in Thursday’s third game, navigating three innings on 32 pitches with no hits, no earned runs, no base runners — and one strikeout.
“Caitlyn did a great job of closing them out after Terin had gone 11 innings against them,” Darity said. “We knew her being a senior and this being her last shot at state that she would be motivated to come in and finish the game off. She did a great job in keeping them off balance and getting those crucial outs.”
Terin Ritz led the team in hits during Thursday’s game three with two hits, an RBI, a walk and a double. Caitlyn Wells (1-for-5, RBI), Ava Farris (1-for-3, RBI), Stockton (1-for-3, two runs scored) and Whitney Kimberlin (1-for-3, two RBIs) tallied the rest of Creek’s six hits.
Deer Creek will now compete in next week’s Class 6A State Tournament held at Shawnee’s The Ballfields at Firelake. The first day of games will start on October 17.