By Chuck Reherman
Yukon begins its quest for a district title Thursday as the Millerettes open the season with Midwest City.
The Millerettes will host the Lady Bombers at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Millerette Softball Complex.
The game will also be Senior Night for the Millerettes and introductions of seniors will be around 6 p.m.
“This is the only game we are guaranteed right now so we decided to go ahead and have senior night so they will have their chance to be recognized,” Millerette head coach Katy Hoke said. “Hopefully it won’t be our only game, but you can never tell with what is going on with the coronavirus.”
There will be safety precautions in place for the game. Every other bleacher is marked off and people will not be allowed to sit on those bleachers. Social distancing is also recommended and all fans will have to wear face coverings while in the ballpark.
The Millerettes, who return six starters from last year’s team that came a game away from the state tournament, will be looking to get on top of the District 6A-2 race early. YHS swept their games with Midwest City last year and the Lady Bombers have been a team that has struggled over the last few years.
But, Hoke said in this district, you can’t overlook anyone.
The team has had only four scrimmage games, but Hoke feels her team is close to being ready to play games.
“We are working on it, I hope so,” she said. “We are working some situations, working some kids into different spots, so I think so. We are starting to iron a few of the kinks out.
“I have an idea of who our starting line-up will be , but there are some definite surprises that we have had,” Hoke added. “That has been good, they have challenged others, so no one is comfortable in their spot.”
The Millerettes middle infield is set with A.J. Rayburn at second and McKenna Johnson at shortstop. Maddie Montgomery returns at third base and Kaylee Witte split starting time at first base.
Kaylee Bradley returns to the mound, but Hoke is still trying to settle on a catcher and the outfield. Taylor McMahon started in the outfield last year, but has split time behind the plate in the scrimmages.
“We will be putting the best nine on the field that we feel we can both offensively and defensively,” Hoke said. “This first game will be a good starting point for our team and we will get a chance to see what some of these younger players can do.
“We look for this group to bring a lot of excitement and a lot of life to the game,” she said. “If they do that, I feel they will play well. This group when they are having a good time tend to make those big plays and get the big hits. So that is what I hope they bring, the excitement and enthusiasm to the game.”
The Millerettes will turn around and head to Broken Arrow on Friday for the Broken Arrow Tournament.
YHS will play Bristow at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and follow that with a 4 p.m. game with Jenks.
The Millerettes will play three games on Saturday (all pool round as no bracket games will be played). Yukon faces Claremore at 10 a.m., Pocola at 11:30 a.m. and finishes their day with Edmond Deer Creek at 6:30 p.m.
The Millerettes finished the pre-season with two games in the Mustang Festival. YHS beat Minco 1-0, but tied with Piedmont 4-4 as the time limit expired.
“We hit the ball pretty well at Mustang,” Hoke said. “We hit too many popups as we did last year and we have already started this year hitting some. We talked a lot about that already.
“They have made good contact with the ball in the pre-season, we just have to keep it as line drives and ground balls and make the other team work,” she said. “And, we have to do a better job of betting bunts down. Sometimes you have to manufacture runs because you can’t always rely on the long ball.”
Against Minco in the first game at Mustang, the Millerettes used the two-hit pitching of Jaycee McKee to pull off a 1-0 win over the Lady Tigers.
Yukon’s lone run came in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single from Montgomery. Johnson had singled to start the inning, stole second and scored on the base hit.
Against Piedmont, the Millerettes took a 4-2 lead into the final inning, gave up two runs and then the time limit ran out leaving the game a 4-4 tie. Piedmont scored their two runs on a two-RBI single.
The Millerettes had taken a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI double from Ariyah Mitchell. Taryn Blazevich had singled before the freshman Mitchell hit a line drive over the centerfielder’s head.
YHS tied the game in the third as Rayburn scored on a passed ball and used an RBI single from Marlee Warden in the fourth inning to open a 3-2 lead. The Millerettes made it 4-2 in the fifth, scoring on a passed ball.