A little over two years after a tornado wiped out of the town of Tushka, the community gathered together and watched its players dump water onto Tigers coach David Durbin.
Tushka won the Class 4A state title, beating Dale 12-10.
“We're proud of you Coach Durbin,” a parent in the crowd yelled.
When Tushka hit its way to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, Durbin thought Dale would tense up. Dale did for the first inning but scored at least one run in every inning except the first and ninth. Tushka, though, had the simple game plan to just get more runs.
“One day tournaments like this, if you get hot at the right time, it really plays into effect,” Durbin said.
The state championship was Tushka's first in slowpitch softball.
“It's a great feeling for our community,” Durbin said. “It really is all about community and our school and family. It's tight-knit communities. It really plays into effect.”
CACHE BATS WAK UP IN FINAL
Cache coach Rodney DeLong watched his players hit well for the past month.
Despite picking off defending state champions Sequoyah-Tahlequah in the opening round and then No. 1 Purcell in the semifinal round of the state tournament, DeLong didn't feel like his players' bats were “alive.”
“We didn't hit it well Game 1 or Game 2, but we had good defense,” DeLong said. “It was nice to beat Purcell because they beat us three times this season.”
Wednesday, in the sixth inning against Henryetta, Cache sent 15 batters to the plate, scored 10 runs and ended up beating the Knights by the 10-run rule, 13-1.
The top of the sixth inning started out with the score 3-1 in Cache's favor, when Alyssa Eschiti tripled, and then Dani Warren hit an RBI-single. The next at-bat was an out, but Cache followed it with six straight hits, five singles and one triple.
The victory gave Cache its first slowpitch state title.
“I just kept telling them to hit to the middle of the field,” DeLong said. “In the past four or five years, we've been here a few times. We were due.”
UNION ANSWERS BACK
All Tulsa Union coach Stephen Randall wanted his team to do was answer back.
After Broken Arrow rallied for five runs in the bottom of the third inning, Union came back in the fifth with eight runs and went on to win the Class 6A state title, beating Broken Arrow 16-6.
That eight-run inning is what Randall said he knows of his team.
“This is probably one of the best clubs we've had as far as singles,” he said. “We just hit the gaps and they rolled to the fence.”
Tulsa Union had nine hits, six of which were singles, in the top of the fifth inning. Then in the top of the sixth, after four singles, Mackenzie Ibison knocked a three-run inside-the-park home run.
“After that (fifth inning), it was like. ‘Keep going ladies,'” Randall said.
Randall, who has coached the program since its start 14 years ago, won his second slowpitch title. The first came in 2010. Then Tulsa Union was semifinalists in 2011 and then lost in the finals last year.
“Those girls remember it,” Randall said about being so close to a title last year. “It was so much better to watch them come back and fight and score.”
BY STEPHANIE KUZYDYM