By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Westmoore got what it wanted. After winning back to back game Friday, it faced Edmond Santa Fe Saturday with a spot in the 6A state tournament on the line. The winner would advance and the loser would be sent packing.
However, after jumping out to a strong lead in the regional championship, the Jaguars couldn’t hold on and fell 6-5 to the Wolves at Westmoore High.
“Man, it’s gut wrenching because those guys laid it all out there between the lines,” Jags coach Jarod Freeman said. “Our coaching staff could not be more proud of a group a kids. They did everything we asked of them but they get no reward for their effort as they were that close.”
Westmoore rolled into the title game after collecting convincing wins over Lawton High (8-2) and ESF (9-1).
In the finale, the Jaguars put together 3-0 lead in the first inning. With the wind blowing out, it looked like they would be able to keep scoring. However, it was Edmond Santa Fe who got its sticks hot and outscored the Jags 6-2 the rest of the way.
“It was a day with the type of conditions we knew we were going to have to score runs,” Freeman said. “We were piecing together our pitching and they were to. At the end of the day you were either going to have to score a lot of runs or go make plays. We just came up short.”
For the second straight year, the Jaguars were unable to advance out of regionals despite hosting the tourney.
“Man they played their hearts out,” Freeman said. “We just came up short. It hurts right now but we had a great season and as a program we took one step closer to the state tournament.”
Moore High was swept out of regional with back to back defeats Wednesday at the Yukon regional.
Southmoore also made it to the regional championship game. Yet, it was Norman North who punched a ticket to the season’s final weekend with an 8-1 victory over the SaberCats in a game that started out full of tension and finished just the opposite, as a number of timely T-Wolves hits combined with six SaberCat errors turned what was a 1-1 game in the fourth inning into a come-from-behind blowout victory for North.
“Just like every season, I am very proud of the hard work that these young men have done, especially the seniors,” Southmoore coach Craig Troxell said. “As a veteran, this isn’t the way you want to end your career. We have made a lot of strides with our younger kids and they will be battle hardened coming into next season.”
Southmoore struck first, loading the bases with one out against starter DJ Gasso. But the senior worked out of the jam with minimal damage, with a baserunning error and a pop-up providing the final two outs. That gave North a chance in the second to regain the momentum, and the T-Wolves seized it, tying the game on a Tyler Bottoms sacrifice fly, after the first of Southmoore’s six errors put runners in scoring position.
But the SaberCats threatened to retake the lead in the bottom half of the inning, as well as in each of the next three. But Gasso and the North defense worked out of every tough spot, holding Southmoore scoreless and forcing the SaberCats to strand five runners through three innings.
That opened the door for North to take control of the game, and the T-Wolves did so. They added a run in the fourth inning to take the lead when Kallen Snodgrass narrowly beat a throw to home plate, and the floodgates opened in the fifth. Jones led off the inning with a triple, Nick Basquine scored him by bunting for a hit, and Herron capped off a spectacular regional tournament in which he went 7 for 11 by providing the hit that brought in Basquine.
The Cats end the year at 16-15.
“We are always going to have high expectations at Southmoore,” Southmoore coach Craig Troxell said. “We, as a staff, knew that we only had three starters coming back, but had some talented newcomers. We had to battle injuries with our veterans almost the whole season, and we had to endure growing pains with our young kids. Those two obstacles were big ones. “