By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Ever have one of those nightmares where it seems like it’s never going to end? That’s how the Stillwater High School girls softball team felt during a 14-2 loss to Broken Arrow Thursday at Little Couch Park.
Michelle Sheppard, Broken Arrow’s No. 9 hitter, went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run — falling just a triple short of the cycle — as the Tigers (20-4, 7-1) flexed their offensive muscles early and often by pounding 15 hits in the rout.
“They hit the ball well and it’s hard to defend base hits,” Stillwater coach Amber Davis said. “We’ve got to be more mentally prepared to play well. They just got their pitch and they made us pay for it.”
Broken Arrow struck early and often as Alexa Romero belted a three-run blast to center to get the scoring started. Four batters and two runs later, Sheppard put Taylor Lane’s offering in almost the exact same spot in center field as Broken Arrow batted around, scoring seven runs before Stillwater (5-8, 3-6 in district) even had a chance to swing the bat.
“It’s definitely hard to come back from,” Stillwater senior left fielder Mackensie Stokes said. “Our goal is always to compete in every single ballgame. Going back in the dugout, we we’re just like, ‘All right, we have to score now.’ It wasn’t over after the first inning and we knew that.”
Stokes did her part, ripping a two-out single in the bottom of the first, but the Lady Pioneers just didn’t have the offensive power to keep pace with Broken Arrow.
The Tigers continued to pour in on the second inning as Broken Arrow tacked on two more runs, chasing starter Taylor Lane from the game. But even as Lane left, there was still a smile on the freshman’s face, perhaps the look of just knowing it was one of those days.
“Trying to talk to a 14-year-old who had two home runs hit off her is tough,” Davis said. “I just tried to tell her that it’s OK and that she’ll push through this.”
Even with Cailin Fluty in relief, things didn’t get much better. Sheppard led off the third inning with a double to left before Hannah Heinrichs scored her with a single. A pair of Stillwater errors brought in two more runs. Even Maegan Rollow, a reserve got in the action, plating Broken Arrow’s fourth run in the frame as the Lady Tigers took a 13-0 lead after two and a half innings.
“Our defense is really coming along,” Stokes said. “Unfortunately, they’re just a really great hitting team. They did their job tonight, for sure.”
Fluty did give Stillwater some life with a single in the bottom of the third — Stillwater’s third hit in the game. Following another single by Stokes, Halley Randolph erased the goose egg with a single to trim the lead to 13-1.
Even after Broken Arrow got that run back on three straight singles in the fifth, Stillwater didn’t give up hope.
With Taylor Johnson relieving Broken Arrow ace Ashley Watts, Fluty reached on an error before Emily Madison beat out an infield single. Stokes then belted a one-out double to the gap in right center to score Fluty, capping off a 3 for 3 performance.
“It feels really good,” Stokes said. “I know I’ve been working really hard this season just to try and do my best. We’re a team, so we all struggle together. It’s just hard to watch my team struggle like that.”
But that’s all Stillwater got as Johnson retired the final two batters to give Broken Arrow it’s third victory by run-rule in the past week.
“It’s hard sometimes when you catch a team on a roll like that, but you always want to be the team that can stop that as well,” Davis said.
The road won’t get any easier for the Lady Pioneers. Stillwater will face Sand Springs in a non-district game Friday before turning around and squaring off with Ponca City — a team that beat Stillwater 12-3 earlier this week — Monday.
“It’s hard but we’re ready to compete,” Stokes said. “We’re ready to come back against Ponca on Monday.
“We always say play within ourselves. If we try to play outside, then our mental game gets really messed up. That’s what we’re going to have to do Monday.