Blanchard spoils YHS opener, 6-3

McKenna Johnson is tagged out going to third by Blanchard’s Jayme Joyce in the Millerettes’ 6-3 loss to the Lady Lions. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

By Chuck Reherman
Sports Editor
A tough way to start the season.
But, a start to build on.
Yukon’s young Millerettes ran into a challenging season opener as Blanchard scored five times in the opening inning and held on for a 6-3 softball season opener at the YHS Softball Complex.
The Millerettes got off to a rough start with some early miscues to fall to last year’s class 4A state runner-up Lady Lions, who came in with an experienced team.
“We had six on the field that was their first varsity start,” Millerette head coach Katy Hoke said. “Nerves did have something to do with it. We are a lot better than what we produced tonight. Our bats are better than what we showed, it was just a lot of them were very nervous.
“We battled back defensively, absolutely, we didn’t make the adjustments we offensively that we needed to make,” she said. “We will have to work on that. But, defensively we made the adjustments and the pitchers made the adjustments.”
Bree Johnson, the only experienced pitcher on staff, started and went six inning, allowing six runs (three earned) and had six strikeouts. A.J. Rayburn came in and worked the final inning.
“Bree hasn’t thrown most of the summer and neither has A.J.,” Hoke said. “They are position players three quarters of the year (mostly with their club teams) and then we are asking them to come out here and throw. They flew in last night, came out on the field today and even though they were playing, it was not that position. And, they were probably tired from the travel. Bree settled in after that first inning and we saw some good things.”
Blanchard struck for five runs in that opening inning on a pair of two-run scoring hits. An error on lead-off hitter Karly Martin’s ground ball opened the door for the Lady Lions. Carlie Craig singled and a double from Callie Hacker drove in the game’s first run.
Micah Whitlow singled in two more runs and Gracie Steelman capped the inning with another two-run scoring single.
The Millerettes got on the board in the bottom of third after Amanda Davis singled. She scored on a passed ball after Rayburn bunted her to second.
Johnson’s two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning (after Ashlynn Bruce walked) cut the lead to 5-3. The Millerettes had only three baserunners the rest of the way and didn’t get a runner past second base.
Blanchard added an insurance run when Cheyenne Brown doubled in a run in the sixth inning.
“We will get there,” Hoke said. “That was a heck of a backhand by McKenna (Johnson) and a heck of a shot by Bree. The outfield tracking down some of those balls. Those were some big flies that were hit. It was good to see them make the plays.
“Blanchard is a very good team,” she added. “We just wanted to come out and play our ball game and we didn’t do that. We are better than what we showed. We are encouraged by what we saw. I think we are going to do some very big things, it’s just getting the time to get them to play together. We had two miscues in the first inning on bunts and those three players had not been on the field together.
“We will practice together tomorrow and we get three practices in before we go to the tournament. We will get to have a few games under our belts before we open district play.”
The Millerettes play today in the final rounds of the Broken Arrow Tournament. YHS plays Bixby at 9 a.m. and Mannford at 12:30 p.m.
The bracket play between pools A and B will be at 4 p.m.
YHS opens district 6A-1 play on Monday with a road game to Lawton. The varsity will play at 6:30 p.m. The Millerettes host Westmoore in district action Tuesday and travels to Edmond Santa Fe Thursday for their third district game of the week. Yukon closes the week playing in the Southmoore Festival on Friday.