Racers beat Lindsay, 7-0, in softball; geared for regional action
The Newcastle Racers fast-pitch softball team beat the Lindsay Leopards, 7-0, on Monday evening at home to bring their season record to a sparkling 20-1.
Racer junior pitcher McKenzie Wagoner sparkled once again. She shut out the Lindsay bunch on just two hits. Wagoner (14-0) struck out 17 and allowed just two hits – to Lindsay’s Addy Shelton.
“She threw a really good rise ball,” Shelton said of Wagoner. “It’s really good! She had a really good spin on the ball and she’s just a very good pitcher. My second time up to bat, she threw me a change-up and I hit that one and got on base. My third time up to bat, she threw me one right down the middle. I fouled it off - and then another and another.
“Then, I got my head on straight and said that I was going to swing over the ball. It went flying over the left fielder’s head and I got a double.”
Shelton was quick to give credit to Wagoner, a junior who has already verbally committed to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
“It’s very hard to face her,” Shelton said. “She gets in your head someway. She makes your whole team get down. You think you’re going to strike out. But, you have to just put your heart into it and play softball like you know how to. We’re just playing day to day and we’ll see what happens.”
Newcastle head coach Mike Crossley was pleased with his team’s win.
“She threw all right,” Crossley said of Wagoner. “But, she can throw better. You could tell that she was a little rusty. She’s just trying to get back in the groove. She’s thrown 5,000 ballgames - or so it seems. But, with a layoff for a week with all the rain and stuff, it sometimes seems like it’s the first game. It’s tough to get back in the groove. She’ll throw again, to be sure.”
Lindsay is a respectable 14-14 after Monday’s action. It was the type of team that Crossley was hoping to see the Racers face after such a long delay ›.
“It was a good tune-up for us,” Crossley said. “All this rain we’ve been having lately has created havoc. It’s hard to get in the groove when you’re battling the weather. The bulk of our games have always been toward the end of the season.”
In preparation for the post-season gauntlet, Crossley has filled in the gaps of the schedule created from the inclement weather earlier this campaign. On Saturday, the Racers will play Owasso. Next Monday, they will play Dale and Norman at the Racers’ home field.
“We haven’t seen those tough teams like we had hoped,” Crossley, noting the washouts at tournaments like Bixby and Shawnee. “We still have a big schedule left, though, before regionals. I like to play tough teams in the end. It keeps you sharp and ready to play.
“Regionals are tough and they are supposed to be that way. It comes down to whoever is comfortable at the plate and whoever is comfortable in the field – people who have been in those situations over and over again. Hopefully, that will be us.”
The Class 4A Regional 4 will be held next week at Newcastle. The Racers will play McLoud (15-14) next Thursday (Oct. 4) at noon. Elgin (16-8) will play Sulphur (27-6) at 2 p.m. The winners of both games will play at 6 p.m. The losers of both games will play an elimination contest at 4 p.m.
“It’s going to take a good effort at regionals,” Crossley said. “It’s going to be us, McLoud, Sulphur, and Elgin. We’re hosting and we’re the No. 1 seed while McLoud is No. 4. Sulphur is the No. 2 seed and Elgin is the No. 3 seed. It should be a good week of softball.”