For the second time in four years, the Guthrie LadyJays are heading to the state tournament.
The LadyJays captured their seventh regional championship Thursday afternoon with a 10-0 win over Ardmore High School. The LadyJays—who hosted the regional for the first time since 1998—cruised through the three games, winning by a combined score of 38-1.
First it was a 23-0 win over Santa Fe South, then it was a 5-1 win over Del City where Karrah Dean threw a no-hitter, striking out 16 batters in her seven innings of work inside the circle. The win over the Lady Eagles set up a Thursday afternoon that would require Guthrie to win one of two games to punch their ticket to state. The opponent waiting for them was none other than Ardmore.
The Lady Tigers ended Guthrie’s season last year in the Ardmore regional. It seemed like the rematch was destined to happen once the regional brackets were released. Ardmore defeated Del City in the play in game 17-0 to face the LadyJays in the regional championship.
Before the game, Guthrie head coach Booker Blakley admitted that Wednesday’s games lacked something, but he wasn’t quite sure. Thursday, against Ardmore, he realized for the first time in the regional he was a little nervous.
“They weren’t bad nerves, they were just nerves to play,” Blakley said. “If you’re not a little nervous in a situation like this, something is wrong with you. The girls were in there before the game talking about how they’re stomachs were bothering them a little bit. That’s good, that meant they were ready to play.”
Guthrie wasted no time in starting off on the right foot. Karlie Huffer led off the bottom of the first with a single to left. After an error and an intentional walk, the bases were loaded for Elaina Clark. Clark barely missed on her swing, popping the ball back up to the pitcher for the first out of the inning. Clark was upset on the way back to the dugout; it was her first chance to bust the game open, but it wouldn’t be her last.
Zoie Morrison was able to knock Guthrie’s first run of the game in on the next at bat with an RBI single to left, scoring Huffer.
The LadyJays would have to wait until the bottom of the third to put their clamps on the game, scoring four runs thanks to RBIs by Morrison, Jules Leach, Eadie Jobe and Addy Awbrey.
While Guthrie was finding its ryhtym offensively, Dean and company were already in a groove on defense. Feeding off her no-hit performance Wednesday night, Dean didn’t allow a single runner to reach base until the top of the fifth inning, when she gave up a lead off double. Dean would leave that runner stranded as she forced Ardmore into a fly out and two strikeouts to end the inning.
With all the momentum, Guthrie looked to capitalize in the home half of the fifth.
Jobe and Aubrey led the inning off with back-to-back singles to left to put two on with no outs. Huffer was then walked to load the bases for Trenda LeGrande. LeGrande was hit by a pitch, which allowed Jobe to score, pushing Guthrie’s lead to 6-0. Ardmore gave Dean the Barry Bonds treatment, intentionally walking her with the bases loaded to give Guthrie its seventh run of the game.
With the bases loaded once again, Clark stepped to the plate. This time she wouldn’t barely miss on her swing. The freshman hit a base-learning walk-off double to left to win the game 10-0. When Dean came around to score the 10th run, the LadyJays didn’t register what had just happen. It took Blakley telling the they won before the dog piling began at home plate.
As some players hugged and others cried, it started to sink in: the LadyJays are heading to state.
“I am so proud of them for all the stuff they’ve done this year,” Blakley said. “They bought in from day one. We set those goals—we always set them really high—and they approached it day by day. We didn’t have many ups and downs, honestly, they kind of jut kept moving forward and to see them get the reward out of it is really awesome.”
Dean was the one to receive the regional championship trophy from Athletic Director Jon Chappell. From taking pictures with the team to showing it off, the senior never gave it up. It has been a long road back here since Guthrie last went to state when she was a freshmen. Injuries plagued her sophomore and junior seasons. Now that she’s finally healthy, she can’t help but enjoy this one.
“It’s crazy because after everything that has gone on after surgery and everything, I didn’t think I would be back to where I was freshman year,” Dean said. “I’m finally better and I’m playing better than what I was doing. This is just great. A lot of people underestimated us, even some people in our own town. We showed up and kicked butt and we deserve this one.”
Dean finished the tournament throwing 12 innings, giving up only one hit and striking out 23 batters. She says she still has more in the tank for next week. She also says this team is as close as ever and are playing great at the right time. They’ve already accomplished several goals this season, Blakley says they only have one more to scratch off the list.
“We’re looking to play through next Saturday,” Blakley said. “We’re looking to raise another trophy and be happy about it. If they come out and keep playing with the same drive and the same determination, they’ll have a good chance at it. If we play well, we can beat anybody.”