Millerette softball opens pre-season at Firelake Festival

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Taylor McMann fields a ground ball during infield practice. The Millerettes scrimmage at Shawnee Monday. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

By Chuck Reherman
Sports Editor
Yukon’s experienced and talented Millerette softball team will take its first test of the season on Monday, competing in the Firelake Scrimmages.
The games will be played at the Firelake Ballfields (the site of the 2018 state softball championships) in Shawnee.
The Millerettes will play two games at 10 a.m. and 11:15. The Millerette JV team will also play a pair of contests in the afternoon.
It is the first of three scrimmage dates for the Millerettes. YHS will host a scrimmage festival on Wednesday and will play in a scrimmage festival on Friday at Mustang.
The Millerettes open the season Aug. 12, hosting Piedmont.
The Millerettes will open the pre-season with Tulsa Union at 10 a.m. on Field No. 4 at the BallFields at Firelake.
YHS will play Jenks at 12:30 p.m. in their second game.
The Millerette JV team will also play a pair of games, playing Fort Gibson’s JV at 3 p.m. on Field No. 5 and plays Union’s JV at 4:15 p.m. on Field No. 4.
The Millerettes will host a five-team scrimmage festival on Wednesday and caps the pre-season with a scrimmage festival on Friday at Mustang.
YHS wound up their third week of workouts on Friday and YHS head coach Katy Hoke has been impressed with what she has seen.
“We have done a lot of intrasquad scrimmaging and have had players going to different positions,” Hoke said. “We have been getting a good look at the pitchers and we have some options, which is good.

Karly Nowlin makes the catch on a throw to second base on a doubleplay drill. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

“We are looking for the hitters to be aggressive at the plate,” she said. “We saw seven pitchers over the last two days to give us an idea of where we are at. But, to me, it’s still hard to see where we stand until we face other schools.
“We will see that next week with the three scrimmages. We have so many games next week and that will be good, we can mix things up and get a good look at everyone.”
Hoke does have seven starters returning from last year’s team that advanced to the state semifinals. But, those starters and being pushed by a talented group of younger players.
Hoke returns Hannah Hurtz and Brooke Mathers to the outfield, McKenna Johnson, A.J. Rayburn and Jordan Schlarb to the infield along with catcher Ashlynn Bruce.
Kaylee Bradley came on late in the season as the Millerettes’ No. 2 pitcher and looks to be the one that Hoke will count on this season.
“We are mixing things up on the infield seeing what combinations are going to work the best,” Hoke said. “We have several kids back from injury from last year, they are definitely players and are making it a challenge.

Brooke Mathers hauls in a flyball with an over the shoulder catch during a Millerette practice. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

“They give us options where last year we didn’t have as many,” she added. “It is a good problem to have. They are fighting for spots and I look for us to have those battles going on through the first part of the season.
“Gigi Vandeluene looks really good at the plate. She can play first, third or catch. Kaley Witt looks good at the plate. She played some last year, but was not a starter. Taylor McMann was hurt last year and she has looked really good. She can catch, play second base, play outfield for the varsity and her stick has looked really good.”
Hoke said these scrimmages will give her more of an idea of what the players can do in certain combinations and who will give the Millerettes the best chance of winning.
“We are looking to find the best core group we can put out on the field,” Hoke said. “We are looking at the best scenario for the program and who gives us the best chance to win.
“We are looking good right now and all our new assistant coaches are having fun with this group.”