MOORE — Moore went into the Big Cat Classic softball tournament as the No. 1 team in the state. After two days of playing against many of the top teams in the state, it did nothing to take away from that train of thought after amassing a 5-1 record over the weekend.
“Our girls are fighters,” Moore coach Michael Wakefield said. “I honestly don’t know if we are the most talented team out there, but they want to win and they fight and claw to make that happen every time they go out and play.” The Lions clinched the Big Cat Classic championship after defeating No. 4 Tahlequah 8-6 in the title game Saturday at Southmoore. The title game was played at the end two long, grueling days of competition. It took more than talent to hold off Tahlequah.
“Focus,” Moore’s Hannah Lynch said. “We focused the entire game. When we are all hitting, we are pretty unstoppable. As long as we are all hitting. Base hits, single doubles home runs, whatever. It’s just good ball.”
MHS was led by Halle Melone, who hit eight home runs over the tournament.
Moore had victories against No. 16 Anadarko (14-6), No. 7 Muskogee (13-12) and No. 9 Tecumseh (10-1). The only defeat at the Classic came against then No. 4 Union.
The Lions also got revenge against No. 2 Westmoore, who had beaten them 19-15 March 26 . At the Classic Moore returned the favor with a 14-6 drubbing.
“We didn’t hit the ball as well against Moore this time,” Jaguars coach Steve Schwarz. “And were a player short in the line up which hurt.”
It was not a great weekend for the defending 6A champions overall. Besides the loss to rival Moore, it also fell 20-17 in the tourney opener Friday. Yet, it held onto its No. 2 ranking.
“I think we played pretty well,” Schwarz said. “ We had a few defensive break downs but that is going to happen with a young team. We need to work on our mental toughness, and pay attention to game situations before they happen. It’s the small things like hitting your cuts or hitting to opposite field when we need it.”
For No. 9 Southmoore, it was a tournament filled with close calls. Even thought it ended with a 1-4 record, coach Jason Lingo feels that could have been reversed easily. Two of the defeats came by one run.
“ We need to understand that even though we went 1-4 on the weekend, we lost tight one run games to two teams ranked above us in the standings,” Lingo said. “And we didn’t play very well in losing those one run games. So if we put it all together and play as we’re capable of playing, we will be able to compete with anyone.”
All three area coaches believe that Big Classic showed that due to how tough and close the games are, the race for the 6A state championship will be a battle. While the Jaguars won it easily last season, each believes it’s up in the air on who will be left standing at the end of the season.
“One of the biggest things that came out of this weekend is that there really isn’t a dominant team this year,” Lingo said. “Everyone is really close in ability and that makes for a wide open race at the state tournament.”
Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth email@example.com