Shayleigh Odom yanked a game-opening home run out of centerfield Tuesday, starting Deer Creek’s season off strong.
Head coach Lacy Darity said Odom’s season-opening at-bat was a best case scenario.
“You can’t ask for anything better than that,” Darity said on Thursday. “She went up there with a plan and saw her pitch and put us ahead.”
The Antlers rode the early momentum to a 10-0 win, with Odom’s homer putting the game out of reach from Norman North on just the third pitch of the ball game.
But Deer Creek put more on the board. In the third inning, Whitney Kimberlin had an infield, bunt-single to lead off the third. Next, Odom was hit by an errant pitch to advance Kimberlin to second. Junior Terin Ritz made good on the advance, smashing an RBI single through the middle of the infield after Caitlyn Wells had moved Kimberlin to third on a fielder’s choice.
That wasn’t even the Antlers’ biggest inning.
Creek added another seven runs in the fourth when the Creek saw Taylor Smith reach first with a one-out single. Kimberlin doubled her in, then Odom scored the scorer on a single to right. Hailey Evans scored Odom before a Ritz RBI-double, a Peyton Norvelle single and a Macy Stockton sacrifice fly capped off the inning.
Until Stockton’s RBI sacrifice, seven Deer Creek batters reached base safely. The total tally of the sprint was six hits, six RBIs and a Norman North error. Darity said the outburst was because her prolific offense was finally starting to settle down.
“They were patient,” she explained. “They went up there with a plan and waited for their pitches and went up and hit the ball.”
The inning’s success was also proof that the summer off-season had taken hold, with Darity’s 8- and 9-hole hitters starting off the seven-score half-inning.
“The bottom of our order did great,” she said. “We’ve kind of preached all summer that they don’t have to be the ones to hit home runs. All they have to do is get a single or a double and turn the game over to Shayleigh and our top of the lineup. If they can do that consistently then we’ll be good, and they were able to do that on Tuesday.”
Deer Creek would add another in the fifth, when Hailey Evans scored Kimberlin for her second run of the game. Kimberlin singled to center before Evans hit a one-out double to the same position after an Odom fly-ball advanced Kimberlin to third.
The runs were nice, but the opening dinger was all starting pitcher Caitlyn Wells needed in Tuesday’s contest. She’d get through the five innings in just 69 pitches — 46 of which were strikes. She struck out four, allowed no runs when only four Norman North batters (two hits, two walks) saw the bases in Creek’s victory.
Darity was high on her starter, especially in her first performance since a freak hamstring injury forced her out of the circle in last year’s state playoffs.
“She pitched well. She was able to manage the count where she could throw her pitches and that was good for her.”
The Antlers are next competing in this weekend’s Broken Arrow Tournament, playing a three game slate that started with Mannford on Friday. Darity expects the competition to be tough, but she hopes that will help Creek find their most successful formulas early in the year.
“We’re excited. We’re going to go see some teams on the east side of the state, some that made the state tournament last year. We’ll play with the roster a bit and find out what’s really going to work for us this season.”