By Chuck Reherman
EDMOND – In the drivers seat.
Yukon needs one win to make its return trip to the class 6A State Softball Championships after the opening day of the Region 2 tournament.
The Millerettes used a seven-RBI performance from Mckenna Johnson, a two-hit pitching performance from Kaylee Bradley and a determined defense to roll past Edmond Deer Creek, 11-0 in the winners bracket final Wednesday night.
YHS will play the winner of the elimination game between Deer Creek and Putnam City at noon today at Deer Creek.
After a rough last week of the regular season (the Millerettes were 1-3-1) YHS came in focused and determined into the regionals. And, it showed. The Millerettes scored 34 runs in its first two days, rolling to a 23-1 win over Putnam City in the opening game, blasting four home runs in the contest.
“This was so fun, they came with their game face on and brought their skills,” YHS head coach Katie Hoke said. “Today, they brought it all the way through and all the little pieces were clicking. From the intensity of the girls in the dugout to the plays on the field, the pitching was awesome to the hitting. And, they had fun, which to me is the best part. They had fun.
“There were so many of the players that had big hits in both games,” she said. “We have to follow up with the same mentality in the finals. Deer Creek is a good ball club, they can rise to the challenge, but I fully believe that we can too. The girls have done everything they can do to put themselves in the best position to make it to the state tournament.”
Kaylee Bradley limited Deer Creek to only three hits and had retired the first eight batters she faced before allowing a baserunner. Deer Creek didn’t really threaten to score in the game until after the Millerettes had taken control, opening an 8-0 lead.
The Millerettes had 10 hits in the game, three by Johnson, who broke the game open in the second inning with a grand slam home run. It was her second grand slam of the day (hitting one in the first game against Putnam City).
YHS was leading 3-0 in the bottom of the second and loaded the bases with two out on singles by Hannah Hurtz and A.J. Rayburn around Brook Mathers reaching on an error. Johnson drilled a 2-1 pitch over the centerfield fence, opening a 7-0 lead and putting the Millerettes in control of the game.
“I just focused more and saw the ball really well in today’s games,” Johnson said. “I just went up ready to rip the ball that was my main goal. I was just looking for a base hit and then all of a sudden it was over the fence. I wanted to cry I was so excited.
“Everyone was locked in today, it was regionals and we want to make it to state and win state, that’s our ultimate goal,” she said. “We have to come out with the same intensity in this next game that we had today,” she said. “We are going to bring it.”
Johnson had spotted the Millerettes to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, lining a double to the right centerfield wall after Mathers had reached on an error and Rayburn had walked. Ashlyn Bruce’s single to right field drove in Johnson to open a 3-0 lead.
The Millerettes ran their lead to 8-0 in the third on an RBI single from Hurtz and Johnson’s seventh RBI came on a bunt single, opened a 9-0 lead. Jordan Schlarb’s two-run scoring double with two out sent the Millerettes to an 11-0 lead.
Deer Creek did try to keep the game alive in the top of the fifth, loading the bases and scoring a run. But Bradley got the next batter to ground out to second base and end the game.
“Kaylee threw a great game tonight,” Hoke said. “They made contact late in the game with the ball, but the defense stepped up and really helped her. They put themselves in a position where they could still relax even though we did make a mistake.
“This was a huge win and we hit the ball well all day long and the best thing was we had a lot of fun out there,” she added. “Anytime you can go out and score 34 runs in a day, that makes for a fun day.”
The Millerettes opened the day scoring runs in bunches and rolling to a 23-1 win over Putnam City.
YHS opened the game scoring six runs in the first inning and pushed nine more across the plate in the second to break the contest wide open 15-0.
Kaylee Witte’s infield single with the bases loaded drove in the first run and opened the flood gates. Bruce doubled home a pair of runs, Schlarb added a two-run double and Maddie Montgomery singled in a run to open the 6-0 advantage.
Johnson keyed a nine-run second inning with her first grand slam home run of the day. Witte had doubled in two runs to open an 8-0 lead. Schlarb had her second two-RBI double of the game and Hurtz singled in a run to make it an 11-0 contest. Johnson drilled her home run with two outs.
A three-run home run from Schlarb, a two-run shot by Rayburn and a solo homer from Montgomery keyed an eight-run fourth inning that ran the lead to 23-1.
By Chuck Reherman