Newcastle goes for the gold at Class 4A state tourney today
The Newcastle fast-pitch softball team is ready to go for the Class 4A state tournament at 4 p.m. today (Thursday) at The Ballfields at Firelake in Shawnee against Muldrow.
“It’s awesome to be playing at this time of the year,” Crossley said. “It’s not an invitational tournament; you have to earn your way to it. We’ve been so many times and sometimes people take it for granted. We have made it look easy but it isn’t. It’s very difficult to make it to state. It’s our 27th trip to state and I’m hoping for the best and I’m excited.”
Newcastle (28-6) is seeded No. 1 in the state tourney. Muldrow (21-12) is seeded eighth. The other teams in the state tournament are Lone Grove (27-4), Oolagah-Talala (33-3), Tecumseh (26-11), Hilldale (29-3), Skiatook (21-10), and Purcell (26-3).
Last Thursday at the regional tournament in Newcastle, the Racers beat Seminole, 13-1, thanks to an eight-run inning in the top of the fourth. Newcastle was already up, 3-1, after having scored two runs in the second inning and one more in the third.
In the top of the third, McKenzie Wagoner tripled the opposite way off the right field fence and then scored on Destiny Donahue’s single. In the top of the fourth, Kennedy Cook led off the inning with a double to score a run, the first of five extra base hits in the inning for Newcastle.
After four innings, it was 11-1. The Racers would score two more in the fifth and retire the side in the bottom of the inning for a 13-1 victory for pitcher Taryn O’Brien, who went five innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out seven and walking zero.
“I think we’re all very focused right now,” O’Brien said after the Seminole game. “These are the most important games we’ve played all year. I think all of our games up to this point have definitely helped us.
“I knew our team would back me up with their hitting at the plate. We’re just feeling great about ourselves and no one doubts each other. We just have to take it one game at a time and we can do this.”
Later last Thursday, Newcastle beat Blanchard, 6-0, as Wagoner struck out 14, walked one, and allowed just one hit in the victory. O’Brien had two hits while Donahue had a hit and knocked in two runs to highlight the offense.
On Friday, the Racers met the Blanchard Lions again. Once more, Newcastle won, 5-2, as Wagoner struck out 10 Blanchard hitters. Shortstop Maebree Robertson had three hits in the leadoff spot of the lineup and O’Brien had two more hits.
“It was Blanchard’s second time to see McKenzie,” Crossley said. “They are well coached and they have great athletes. They chased quite a few pitches like they did the day before but we had an umpire who had
of our schedule and the teams we’ve played helped prepare us for such a game.”
Robertson was enthused after the Seminole game and said she and her teammates are aware they are marked by the competition as the top team in the state.
“We did a great job with our hitting,” Robertson said after the Seminole game. “Our defense was fine with the wind blowing strong, for sure. We made adjustments in our hitting to find the holes. We had all those back-to-back doubles in that inning. “We tried to keep it going and we got eight runs out of it which was great. We know we have a bullseye on us. But, if we keep on doing what we’ve been doing with our defense and our hitting, we should have a great state tournament.”
Crossley is confident his senior leadership can lead Newcastle to the state championship.
“I would like to think that our senior leadership will play to our advantage at the state tournament,” Crossley said. “We’re not going to see anything different than we have all season long. We’ll see the speed, the power, the good hitters, the good pitchers, the great defense … we’ve seen it all. I think we’re well prepared and we’re battle tested. I’m really proud that our girls didn’t show any signs of nervousness in the regional finals against Blanchard.
“We worked our way out of jams and we did a great job of bunting with runners in scoring position. We had gotten away from our technique a bit for a couple of games and got a little sloppy. You’ve got to bunt in pressure situations, especially with a runner on second. Anything can happen at that point. We just did a much better job of bunting in certain situations.”
Crossley would like to see his Newcastle team continue its timely hitting.
“Overall, we did a great job at regionals,” Crossley said. “We’ve got a lot more runs in us, though. We’re capable of really unloading on the other team right now. When we scored eight runs against Seminole in one inning, we were putting hits together back-to-back-to-back. We just need to do what we need to do win state.”
The Racers have played a brutally tough schedule this year against several teams who made their respective state tournaments across all classes.
“I don’t care who we play,” Crossley said. “They’re all going to be great ball clubs. Again, all the teams earned their way into the state tournament. Anybody could beat us. But, I tell the girls that I’m not worried about the other team. I’m worried about us. If we go out and do things correctly – bunt well, pitch well, and play good defense – then we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.
“We’ve already played lots of teams who made their state tournaments. Nobody can throw anything at us that we haven’t already seen this season. That makes me confident going into state. We just have to go out and make good when we get our chance. We will have to perform under pressure but we’re ready.”
Newcastle will play Muldrow at 4 p.m. today. Other games will be Lone Grove against Oolagah-Talala at 6:30 p.m., Tecumseh against Hilldale at 1:30 p.m., and Skiatook against Purcell at 11 a.m.