By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Hunter White fancies herself a student when it comes to the game of softball. Not a pitch goes by where the Stillwater freshman isn’t studying the location and movement, looking for anything that might give her an advantage on the off chance that she’d get an at-bat.
All that studying paid off Thursday, as White’s two-out single in the top of the ninth proved to be the difference maker in the Lady Pioneers’ first win of the season with a 5-4 win over Sapulpa.
“I didn’t really think about anything when I went up to bat,” White said. “I just hit — plain and simple. If (Stillwater coach Amber Davis) puts me in, I’ll do my best to help the team score.”
“She was put in a tough situation and she worked deep in the count,” Davis said. “She got a nice, inside pitch and got her hands through and scored a run.”
It’s hard to believe that a freshman can have much impact on a season, but White’s hit has turned things around for the Lady Pioneers. Since then, Stillwater has won three of its last five games and its confidence seems to be soaring.
“It was awesome,” White said. “But without my teammates making plays and getting their hits, it probably would have been a different ball game. So I owe a lot of the credit to them.”
White may give the assist to her teammates for getting on base, but at least part of that credit goes to Davis.
While nobody likes sitting on the bench, White says she has learned a lot about the game just by watching it unfold from the dugout in her first varsity season. It’s also part of the reason she was able to work the count and eventually get a pitch she could do something with.
“I get to see situations and I get to see pitchers and what they’re like, so next year I’ll be ready,” White said. “I know what pitchers have. I always ask my coaches if (the pitcher) has a pattern or if there’s anything I need to watch out for. I listen to them, respect them and get in there and hit.”
And that’s all Davis wants from the freshman — to swing away. Even if White doesn’t get many starts, Davis said she’s developed a trust in White because she has such a natural talent for swinging the bat.
“You just tell someone like her to go in there and relax,” Davis said. “It’s not their first at-bat. Nerves are going to be nerves, especially as freshmen. We have some freshmen in key situations for us, but we trust them to make plays for us and just do the things they’ve always been trained to do.”
While White hasn’t neccessarily appeared in all those Stillwater victories over the last week, Davis said her hot bat has opened up the possibility of more playing time in the near future.
“She had been hitting the ball well for us previously that week, and we needed some power. If not necessarily a base hit, we knew that she could get it deep for us. It helped her confidence a lot. I look for her to be a key designated player in the future or a pinch hitter when needed.”
And even if White doesn’t get to see the field as much in the coming weeks, just being a part of the varsity team as a freshman has been an unforgettable experience.
“It’s an honor, basically,” White said. “As a freshman, playing varsity with sophomores, juniors and seniors, it’s been great.”
Stillwater boys cross country team
It’s hard to pick just one member of a team that absolutley obliterated the competition in its first meet of the season, but that’s exactly what the Pioneers did at Thursday’s Enid meet.
Led by guys like Bo Frohock and Zach Porterfield, Stillwater finished first in the meet, bringing home the team trophy.
Morgan Wheatley, volleyball
Wheatley may not be the most vocal player on the Lady Pioneer squad, but she definitely has the game to back up anything that might slip out of her mouth.
The senior attacker recorded 23 kills against Owasso during a five-game set in the Union Tournament and proved to be the go-to player as the teams slugged it out in the fourth set, which ended with a 33-31 Stillwater victory. She also tallied 16 kills in a 3-2 loss to Union.
Laikyn Anderson, softball
The Lady Pioneers didn’t have too much success in the first two games of district play, but Anderson certainly was a bright spot for the Lady Pioneers.
Anderson went 2-for-3 in Stillwater’s season-opening loss to Broken Arrow and continued to have a hot bat throughout the rest of the week and in the El Reno Tournament.
Carley Walstad, volleyball
When it comes to assist, Walstad is no stranger to setting the table for the Lady Pioneers. But even she was a little taken back by the number she put up against Owasso during a five-set match in the Union Tournament.
Walstad recorded 59 assists in that game alone, conceivably breaking every Stillwater single-game record ever kept en route to nearly 200 assists during that five-game tournament.