It was a pitcher's duel for the ages as Grove's Jessica Walker and Chickasha's Kelsi Gore faced off in the 5A state championship game Monday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Walker's Lady Ridgerunners came out on top, holding off the Fightin' Chicks for a 3-2 victory.
“This is the third year in a row we've been to the state tournament and made it to the semifinals two straight years before getting to the championship game,” said Grove coach Jeremy Collins. “Getting past Carl Albert last Friday was a big step to getting here. Our kids just stepped up. It's somebody different all the time. Tonight it was Morgan Knox's turn. Jessie Walker pitched lights out again.”
Chickasha matched Walker's run with one in the bottom half of the fourth. Gore reached on an error and came home on one of Brooklin Burns' two runs batted in on the afternoon. Grove regained the lead in the fifth when Megan Freeman scored on a Taylor Dodson single.
The Lady Ridgerunners added the eventual game-winning run in the sixth as Knox drove in pinch runner Ciera Christy to give Grove a 3-2 advantage heading into the bottom half of the sixth.
Chickasha did not go quietly as the Fightin' Chicks rallied to cut the lead to one. Gore reached on a walk and came around to score on a single from Burns to trim to lead to 3-2 Grove with an inning to play.
Tawn Neidy reached on a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Sydney McHugh, but Walker and the Lady Ridgerunners got the final out before the Fightin' Chicks had a chance to tie the game.
“We didn't do anything different than we normally do,” Collins said of his defense in the latter innings. “We had to be aware of Chickasha's speed because they're so fast. We were just trying to keep our players calm and make sure they understand they have to get outs.”
Walker struck out six.