After winning six straight postseason elimination games, Owasso finally ran up against an opponent it couldn’t quite overcome on Saturday night.
Southmoore sophomore Riley Sharp hit a one-out double to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning to score pinch-runner Abi Jones, lifting the second-ranked SaberCats to a dramatic 3-2 win over No. 5 Owasso in the Class 6A softball title game at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
Owasso (30-9) rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game, even with the early loss of star pitcher Lily Shaw due to injury. It was the Rams’ fifth title-game loss under coach Shane Eicher, but he tried to keep it in perspective, especially considering Owasso has had its proverbial back against the wall since losing 1-0 to Union in a first-round regional game.
Since then, the Rams kept winning and winning and winning, though, until Saturday.
“This is a special group of kids,” Eicher said. “Holy cow – just incredible. All of them. I am just so proud of them. The heart and effort in those kids is 100 percent.”
Southmoore (34-5) won its third state title, along with championships in 2013 and 2016. The three Moore high schools – Southmoore, Moore and Westmoore – have combined to win six 6A titles since 2005.
“I can’t say enough about what Riley Sharp has done the last three days,” Southmoore coach Jason Lingo said. “She’s our nine-hole because I think she’s a second leadoff. … From hitting a game-tying home run yesterday (in a 2-1, eight-inning semifinal win over Edmond Deer Creek) to what she did tonight, I couldn’t be more proud.
“I’m fortunate as a coach … When Southmoore opened, we came to a district that I didn’t know much about. I didn’t know their prowess in softball. We learned how quick how important it is. In our city, we have a ton of kids who buy into the sport of softball from a very young age. They live it every single day.”
Tallen Edwards, Southmoore’s leadoff batter, led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run over the right-center field fence, then hit a triple that scored Sharp in the second inning to make it 2-0.
Shaw – who hit the decisive home run Friday in a semifinal win over Edmond Memorial – was hit by a pitch by Southmoore starter Brinly Maples in the first inning and although she pitched the second, she exited the game after that and Lauren St. John went the rest of the way in the circle for the Rams.
“Southmoore is a good team and it hurt us when we had to take Lily out,” Eicher said. “That’s our three-hole and our go-to. But all the other kids, they rallied around her.”
The Rams took advantage of two Southmoore errors in the fourth inning to score, with Natalie Ackenhausen reaching on the first miscue and scoring on the second. In the fifth inning, Maples hit Emmalie Green with a pitch, and she eventually scored on a single by Sarah Campbell to tie the game.
After that, neither team advanced a runner past second until the eighth. In the top of the inning, Owasso’s Avery Tallman singled with one out, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Katelyn Crossman and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice grounder by Madi Norton when Jones, Southmoore’s second baseman, didn’t cover the bag to take a throw from first baseman Kaylee Carter.
The SaberCats escaped that jam, though, as Sharp – the left fielder – was perfectly positioned to catch a sinking line drive by Green.
Brylee Fanning opened the bottom of the eighth with a single to right field and Jones ran for her. Presley Main struck out while trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Jones stole second base, dislodging the ball from Campbell, the Owasso shortstop, in the process.
Sharp, the SaberCats’ No. 9-hole hitter, hit a line drive down the right-field line that easily scored Jones with the game winner.
“I was just looking to hit the ball and put it in play,” Sharp said. “We had one out, so I was trying to look toward the right side, just to move the runner and that’s what happened.”
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