By Chuck Reherman
Playing the defending state champion is always a tough challenge, but playing that team with all their starters back makes for even more of a task.
Yukon took on that challenge Tuesday night in a rematch of the distrct 6A-2 title game and saw Westmoore do basically the same thing as last year. The Lady Jaguars put together a late inning and raced past the Millerettes 10-3 in the second district outing for both teams.
The Millerettes, 7-2, had a shaky start falling behind by three runs in the opening inning, made a comeback, but saw Westmoore unleash a five-run seventh inning with a pair of home runs to hand the Millerettes their first district loss.
Yukon will get a second shot at the Lady Jags on Sept. 9 in Westmoore.
“When we made that run in the fifth inning, I thought we were going to stay in the game, but then the wheels came off in the seventh inning,” Millerette head coach Katy Hoke said. “That was sad. We should have stayed in it and we are better than that. We started out rough.
“Defensively we were not making plays,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time we catch the ball in left, make all three of those ground ball stops at second and we have a cannon in right field that throws out at home and we don’t even throw home. It was like they lost their minds.
“I don’t know if it was nerves or they put pressure on themselves because of who we were playing, I just really don’t know. And, we should have been okay. We were in the game and just gave it away in seven. You can’t throw an 0-2 count over the plate.
“We just have to learn from it and move forward. This did happened last year and we learned from it and hopefully we can take care of business from here on out.”
The Millerettes did make a run at Westmoore in the bottom of the fifth inning, turning to the small ball game to catch the Lady Jags off guard.
And, YHS successfully put down five bunts in the inning that led to three runs and cut the Westmoore lead to 4-3.
Taylor McMahon had reached on an error to get the inning started. Hannah Hurtz laid down a bunt and was safe when the ball was dropped at first base.
A.J. Rayburn’s bunt was misplayed by the second baseman that scored the first run. Kenna Johnson squeeze bunted in the second run and Ashlyn Bruce bunted the runners over the second and third and Kaylee Witte laid down the fifth bunt that scored a run and cut the lead to 4-3.
“We had a great inning of bunting and I would have liked to have seen that continue,” Hoke said. “Westmoore never adjusted to it. In other innings they came in, but not in that inning.
“We could have gone back to swinging the bat had they come it,” she said. “That is what we want to make happen but, we weren’t making adjustments at the plate to the outside pitch.
“We were getting runners on base, we have to place the selfless softball and pick those runners up. We need to play team softball. We are better than what we showed tonight.”
Westmoore did get a run back in the top of the sixth inning when Claira Skaggs hit a hard line drive off the pitcher’s glove with the bases loaded to make it 5-3.
Yukon, though, got out of the jam giving up only the one run and kept themselves in the game.
The Millerettes, though, couldn’t get out of the seventh inning.
Janelle Marwitz’s solo home run sparked a five-run seventh inning that broke the game open for the Lady Jags.
Ieesha Christian and Renee Christian drove in runs with a single and a double and Mattie Lee’s two-run home run capped the inning.
Westmoore had jumped on the Millerettes for three runs in the first inning on a two-run scoring single from Kalie Amos and an RBI hit from Olixie Schrieber.
Yukon committed four errors in the first two innings that helped lead to the four Westmoore runs.
“Anytime you go down against a good team it puts pressure on you,” Hoke said. “We knew we were going to have to battle for every run and when we gave up three runs, they didn’t earn those runs, it added that much more pressure to us.
“I told the girls after the game that they are so much better than we played,” she said. “They are, they just have to have confidence in themselves because we are really a good ball club. They are very fundamentally sound softball players and tonight we didn’t have those fundamentals.
“My jaw dropped that first inning with what I saw and even in the second inning. We swung at pitches we don’t normally swing at. We know we can compete with that team, we just didn’t rise to the challenge and hopefully we will next time.
“I told them our goal is to win out district to host a regional. But, this is not the defining moment, we will rise above and move forward. We will be fine.”
The Millerettes will host Putnam City North in a 6A-2 game Monday and play at Southmoore Tuesday. Both are 6:30 p.m. games.
By Chuck Reherman