Cushing High School's fall session of softball came to the end on October 8, when they were shut out by Purcell 8 to 0 Friday afternoon in the McCloud regional championship game. The tiger bats fell silent as the only tigers getting base hits were catcher Marci Wiley and shortstop Taylor Delara, both batting 2 for 3 and left stranded on base.
Cushing's first opponent in the regional tournament was the host McCloud Redskins Thursday afternoon. The tigers took the early lead when Wiley and Delara opened the fourth inning with back to back singles then scored on Lizzie Kennedy's grounder to the outfield. McCloud came back to tie the game in their half of the fourth when they opened with a base on balls followed by a smash over the left field fence for a 2 run homer by the redskin's pitcher helping her own cause.
After retiring the tigers in 1-2-3 fashion, the McCloud redskins took advantage of a tiring Megan Carrier as she opened the fifth inning by issuing back to back walks followed by back to back hit batters. The damage was done as the redskins plated 5 runs before the tiger defense could retire the side. Cushing tried to respond as they rallied in the sixth inning to load the bases but could only muster 1 run before running out of steam, losing to McCloud,
7 to 3.
After falling to McCloud, the tigers found themselves in an elimination game with the purple pirates of Bristow, who had lost earlier in the day to #1 seeded Purcell.
The tigers opened the "win or go home" affair by plating the first run when Cushing slugger Marci Wiley blasted a grounder into the right center gap. Coming in as a courtesy runner for the Cushing catcher was freshman speedster, Mariah Treat, who easily rounded the bases to score following Delara's drive to the deep outfield. Bristow came roaring back in the third when the pirates were able to take advantage of an error prone tiger defense, scoring 5 unearned runs to take the lead.
Cushing scored 1 run in the fourth to narrow the gap to 5 to 3 when Carly Deaton opened with a base on balls, stole second base and was able to score on Michelle Hubbard's fielder's choice ball. Disaster for the tigers struck again in the bottom of the fourth as the pirates pounded the Cushing pitcher, adding 6 more runs putting the tigers in grave peril of elimination and an 11 to 3 hole. To get out of the inning, Short went to his senior reliever Deja Wilson, to get the pirates off the base paths. After a brief huddle in the tiger dug out prior to batting in the sixth inning, Cushing developed a "refuse to lose" attitude and came rolling back with a tremendous tiger roar - as Coach Short went to his bag of tricks.
Cushing loaded the bases against Bristow, took the pinch hit, involving two hot hitting slugging freshmen, Mikaela Weaver and Morgan McGrew. Both delivered with 2 run base hits, giving their team new found energy. Cushing completed the route, by scoring 9 runs to retake the lead 12 to11 in the decisive sixth inning. Bristow, stunned by the onslaught of tiger offense, could not mount a comeback in the sixth and seventh innings and went back to Creek County wondering about what might have been.
Cushing returned to McCloud Friday at high noon to find that
#1 seeded Purcell had sent host, McCloud, to the loser's bracket and to an elimination re-match with Cushing.
The tigers eager for redemption on the redskins and wanting a shot at Purcell, scored in the second inning as Kennedy and Deaton teamed up to give Cushing a 2 to 0 lead. Cushing pushed another run across in the third as Kennedy got on base via a single, then was able to move around the bases on fielder's choices, scoring on Deaton's grounder to second. Kennedy again scored in the fifth as she got on via a base on balls, and again maneuvered the bases to score on Deaton's fly ball to right to give Cushing a 4 to 0 cushion.
The redskins proved they weren't yet done for the season, as they mounted a 5 run rally in the sixth inning, taking advantage of Cushing errors and taking the lead 5 to 4. Once again the Cushing coaches called on budding slugger, Mikaela Weaver, to open the tiger half of the sixth inning. The freshman responded by driving a "stand up double" to the fence, igniting a 4 run rally as B. McCoy, N. McCoy, and Wiley all hit singles. Delara cleared the bases as she drove a ball to the outfield fence. With the lead and new energy, the tiger defense set down the redskins to end McCloud's season.
Next on the slate for the tigers as they advanced on their state tourney bid, was #4 in the state and highly regarded Purcell with their gunslinger pitcher, Kayla Wyatt. The tiger batters couldn't catch up to the speed and finesse of Wyatt - as she whiffed 14 tiger batters.
Center-fielder Jessica Niccum, was lost for the game in the fourth inning when she suffered a serious knee injury, avoiding a collision with Becky McCoy in left center field. The dragons scored in all of their at bats to take the game at 8 to 0 and end the Cushing tiger season with the shutout.
The Cushing tiger softball team of Coaches Chad Short, Charles Copeland and Lonnie Schuler, upon their return to Cushing, put away their bats and gloves to reflect and celebrate a 31 and 12 season, one of the best ever for Cushing softball.
While their quest for the state tournament fell short, this tiger team raised the bar of excellence that future tiger teams must aspire to.
The Cushing tigers will bid farewell to six seniors, catcher Marci Wiley who set both, single season and career home run records, outfielder Carley Deaton, outfielder Becky McCoy, utility player and designated batter Naomi McCoy, pitcher Deja Wilson and infielder Michelle Hubbard.