By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When it comes to playing younger players, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad — something Stillwater High School softball coach Amber Davis is all too familiar with.
And while the Lady Pioneers did hold their own for five innings against Ponca City Monday at Little Couch Park, it’s the other two innings Davis would like to have back.
Stillwater gave up a combined 11 runs on five errors in those two innings, turning what could have been a Stillwater victory into a 12-3 blowout.
“You look out there and we’re surrounded by freshmen and sophomores,” Davis said. “We made some young, defensive errors.”
Led by Jacye Grimm — who went 2 for 3 with a grand slam and five RBIs — Ponca City (14-5, 5-2 in district) tallied five runs in the third before blowing the game open with a six spot in the seventh as Stillwater (5-7, 3-5 in district) lost for the third time in the last four games.
“I never say somebody’s going to get 12 runs on us,” Davis said. “We just kind of shut down mentally and made a few too many mistakes out there.”
Stillwater actually struck first as Halley Randolph led off the bottom of the second with a double before Christy Leim then brought her home with a single back through box.
“It felt pretty good to get the RBI,” Leim said. “It got me motivated and gets my team motivated that we can all do that if we really try.”
It looked like Stillwater might add to its lead, but a perfect throw from center nailed Leim at the plate on Laikyn Anderson’s double. The Lady Pioneers did manage to scratch another run across in the bottom of the second as Courtney Hughes reached on an error, allowing Anderson to score. But that’s all Stillwater got as they took a 2-0 lead into the third inning.
“We try to jump out there first,” Davis said. “We just have to make sure that we hold that lead once we get it.”
Holding onto that lead — and the ball — proved to be a challenge for the Lady Pioneers all night, however.
After Taylor Lane gave up a pair of singles to lead off the top of the third, Stillwater’s defense didn’t provide much support. An error on a tailor-made double play loaded the bases for Grimm. One pitch later, Grimm gave the Lady Wildcats a 4-2 lead, depositing Lane’s pitch over the wall in right-center field. Another error plated Ponca City’s fifth run as the Lady Wildcats took a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
“It happens,” Davis said. “We’re going to get hit and we’ve got to learn to bounce back from that. She came back and bounced back from that, but it’s tough when you have a 14-year-old kid out there on the mound. We’re learning, but it’s a work in progress.”
“That didn’t really hurt us as much as in the last inning,” Leim said. “We knew it was early in the game, so we knew we could get ourselves back up.”
Leim and Anderson continued to provide a spark for Stillwater’s offense. After a one-out single by Leim, Anderson followed suit with a single of her own. Sydney Scott — batting in the nine-hole — then looped a flyball just inside the line in left, scoring Leim to trim Ponca City’s lead to 5-3.
After Lane mowed down the first two batters in the sixth, a single and a walk to Grimm put two on with two outs. Once again Stillwater’s defense couldn’t get Lane out of the inning as Stillwater’s third error allowed Ponca City to expand its lead to 6-3 before the Lady Wildcats put the game out of reach with six runs on five hits and three errors in the seventh inning.
“The ball just did not bounce our way, but the good news is that we get another chance next week, so we’ll go at them,” Davis said.
Along with Leim, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run, Anderson also went 2 for 2 with a double. Randolph finished 2 for 4 with a run and Scott was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Stillwater will host Broken Arrow Thursday at Little Couch Park, capping off a four-game home stand.
“We have a lot of confidence going into that game,” Leim said. “I think our situational hitting has gotten a lot better. That helps a lot. We started low and we’re getting better each day. All we can do is practice fielding and hitting at this point.”