By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When the Stillwater High School softball team went through its offensive struggles in the middle of the year, coach Amber Davis could have easily hit the panic button and reshuffled the lineup.
She didn’t, knowing that eventually those losses early in the season would pay off when the Lady Pioneers reached the postseason.
Now Davis’ patience has paid off as Stillwater (13-17) opened regional play at Sand Springs against Muskogee (22-10) Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re hitting the ball just like I wanted us to end up hitting the ball toward the end of the season,” Davis said. “They’re just seeing it, hitting it to where it’s pitched and we’re finally starting to score some runs off of it.”
Scoring runs will be crucial for the Lady Pioneers if they want to make an appearance at the state tournament, but Davis said the key has been patience.
“We’re definitely hitting our stride,” Davis said. “We’ve worked so hard. We got through the big dogs and we’ve really been coming together the past three weeks. I think it’s going to pay off for them this week.”
Davis said it doesn’t hurt that her team also feels like it has something to prove after finishing seventh in district play.
“We’re coming around,” Davis said. “We’re hitting the ball well and we’re pretty good. The games that we lost were just by a couple of runs here and there. We feel like we’re good enough to play with anybody in the state.”
The Lady Pioneers are hoping to live up to that hype with a possible meeting against Sand Springs — which beat Stillwater twice in district play. Sand Springs comes in as the No. 1 seed in the tournament and faced Sapulpa Wednesday afternoon.
“It helps a lot knowing that we’ve played them twice already,” Davis said. “Sand Springs is going to be competitive. They have it going on and they’re seeded No. 1 for a reason, but I feel like if we come to play it’s going to be a great ball game.
“It always helps us to know that we can play with (the top seed in our bracket). We lost a couple of close games to them, so knowing the brackets that we got, we stand a really good chance of competing against them.”
For Davis, the goal is pretty simple — get to Thursday’s finals. From there, Davis hopes the months of preparation leading up to the postseason will take over.
“Our expectations are to be playing Thursday night in the finals,” Davis said. “We had a real good practice (Tuesday) and set some goals. That’s about all we can do. Now we just have to take care of business.
“I’m beyond excited at this point,” Davis said. “They’re ready to really bust out and show everybody what they’ve been working for since February. We’ve done it all together and we’re hoping to come home with a regional championship on Thursday.”