Durant High’s softball team entered Tuesday’s game outside of the top 10 teams in 5A fast-pitch rankings, released earlier in the day by okrankings.com.
The Lady Lions responded with 10 reasons to reconsider in a come-from-behind rally over the 8th-ranked Coweta Lady Tigers in a district decision on Tuesday.
Trailing 5-0 in the fourth inning, Durant rallied to get within 5-4 before Coweta pulled away with a four-run sixth. The gutsy Lady Lions put up six runs of their own to take a 10-9 lead, then the defense slammed the door in the seventh and Durant walked away winners.
“This team never gives up. I’ve known that from day one,” said Durant softball Coach Aaron Mullens. “This sets us up very well for districts. They’re a good hitting team and we hit right with them.”
Alexa Richards had a break-out game with two hits and three RBIs, including the go-ahead run in the sixth. Colby Holder was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. All nine Durant batters recorded at least one hit, and pinch-runner Ashley Davis scored twice.
Kalyn Ward recorded an unlikely victory in her complete-game performance which included 13 Coweta hits but only four walks. She struck out six and the defense only committed one error behind her.
The Lady Tigers got two runs in the first inning on two hits, two walks and a sacrifice. They tacked on two more in the third as Ward was roughed up for three hits despite two Ks. Defensive gems by centerfielder Kenzi Clapp and Kylie Manning at third helped minimize the damage.
Still, Coweta snuck in another run in the fourth and was prepared to take a 5-0 shutout into the late innings. Durant rustled up a rally in the bottom of the fourth which shook Coweta’s confidence.
Ward started it off with a single, then Kylie Manning drew a walk. Richards drove in the first run on a base hit, young Riley Andis then singled to load the bases and Logan Hime put the ball in play for a two-RBI fielder’s choice before the rally was stopped.
Coweta limped into the fifth inning with a 5-3 lead. A lead-off double was followed by a ground-out, then Katie Caraway gloved a hard-hit liner to short and got the throw to Manning at third for a double play.
For the Lady Lions, Clapp drew a walk and reached third on a double by Holder. Ward got the RBI with a fielder’s choice to score Clapp and cut Coweta’s lead to 5-4. But the Lady Tigers put up four more runs in the sixth on four hits, a walk and a passed ball.
There would be no acts of nature to stop the Lady Lion rally this time. Three straight singles by Hime, Caraway and Clapp loaded the bases for Durant, then Holder knocked in two runs with a double.
Ward drew a walk to keep the bases full, then Manning walked to force Clapp home and Durant trailed only 9-7. Holder slid home on a passed ball to get the Lady Lions within 9-8.
This brought up the sophomore Richards again. She capped off the rally with a two-run double which scored pinch runner Ashley Davis to tie the game and Manning crossed home to give Durant the lead.
Ward got two quick outs in the seventh before Coweta got into scoring position with a double and a walk. A grounder hit sharply to Manning at third was bobbled, then thrown to first for the out and the win.
Last Saturday, Durant defeated Lawton MacArthur 6-2 and lost to 4A No. 2 Cache 14-5, and with Tuesday’s win their record improves to 4-3. They get a non-district rematch with Coweta on Thursday at the Shawnee Tournament.
Also in Shawnee, Durant will face Deer Creek (5A No. 4) and Carl Albert (5A No. 6) on Friday, before tangling with host Shawnee (5A No. 16) on Saturday. All of this week’s games will be critical playoff sneak peeks with little more than a month remaining until postseason play.