OKLAHOMA CITY – Saylor Collier stepped to the plate for the second time in the game, with two outs recorded, the bases loaded and the game tied.
The Ripley High sophomore battled off a few pitches before slapping the ball just past the infield for the biggest hit of Thursday’s Class A state tournament game between Ripley and Mooreland at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.
Collier’s hit cleared the bases and gave Ripley a lead it never relinquished. It propelled the Lady Warriors to a 9-1 victory in the state quarterfinals.
“That hit was huge,” Ripley coach Kaleb Hoffman said. “She is such a weapon in the bottom of our lineup. She is a really high contact kid and gets down the line well. She is one of those kids that when she comes through with that two-out, two-strike hit, you’re not surprised because she puts in a lot of work to prepare herself for that situation.”
The victory advanced Ripley into the state semifinals for the second time in three years. Ripley finished as state runner-up in 2018 and lost in the first round last year.
Ripley will play Sterling at noon Friday in the semifinals. Sterling beat Morrison 7-6 in 11 innings Thursday.
“They’re an outstanding ball club,” Hoffman said. “They’re extremely well coached. I’ve got as much respect for Coach (Marty) Curry as I do anybody, because he’s been here only 20 times. His teams are always going to be prepared, and they’ll scrap and grind out. Nothing will come easy against them.”
Thursday, it was Collier’s hit that sparked a six-run inning that appeared to break the Mooreland spirits. The fourth inning began with a Mooreland error that allowed Ripley senior Betty Wolfe to reach first base, which was followed by a single from sophomore Brooklyn Gobble.
Three batters later, Ripley’s Faith Folden was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Freshman Taylor Boyd pinch hit and was walked, bringing in the tying run.
Collier came up next and delivered the single that resulted in three runs and her reaching third base because of a defensive error. Senior Carlee Mollet followed with an RBI single, but was able to reach third base on another Mooreland error. Freshman Dakota Hall added the sixth run on an RBI single and reached second on the fourth error of the inning.
Ripley added two more runs in the sixth on a fielder’s choice and two Mooreland errors. Another error in the seventh allowed junior Kelsie McCollom to reach third on a bunt as the leadoff batter. She scored on an RBI groundout for the final run.
Gobble struck out eight batters and allowed only three hits in the victory. Two of the hits came in the final half inning.
“She hits spots well,” Hoffman said. “Outside of walking the leadoff, which is just one of those things that just happens, she was outstanding from that batter on, in my opinion. She settled in and gave our team the best chance to win, and we were good defensively behind her.”
Although Ripley cruised to victory, the game began a little rough for the Lady Warriors. Gobble struck out Mooreland’s Molly Adams for what appeared to be the final out of the first inning, but as players began heading to the dugout, the play was ruled a dropped third strike and chaos ensued.
Hall threw the ball over the first baseman’s head and into right field. Leadoff batter Lakin Burrow came around from second and scored, while Adams reached third. Hoffman argued his catcher dropped the ball on the exchange, not on the pitch, but the play stood and Mooreland led 1-0.
In the top of the second inning, Gobble led off with a single. McCollom hit a bunt single that advanced Gobble to second base. However, it was ruled she stepped out of the batter’s box before the bunt, therefore she was called out.
Hoffman again appealed the call, and again lost. Despite the two early calls going against the Lady Warriors, Hoffman was proud of his players for moving past what could have become a quick setback.
“Things are going to go good and things are going to go bad, kind of like we talked about yesterday,” Hoffman said. “I felt our team did a good job of just shaking off some tough breaks early. We took a breath before the fourth inning and I told them, ‘We’ve got four innings left, just relax and play Lady Warriors softball and we’ll be fine.’ We took a breath and ended up putting up a six spot. We had some really big at-bats with two outs. … I think five of the runs came with two outs.”