The Perry Invitational softball tourney scheduled for Sept. 10-12,th was rain delayed, rain canceled then resurrected and moved from Perry to Cushing Friday, Sept. 11, turning into an 8 team round-robin “softball festival.” With near perfect softball weather and field conditions to match, teams gathered from Ponca City, Perry, Blackwell, Pawnee, Perkins, Oak Grove,  and Jennings to join the Cushing Middle School lady tigers in a day of softball prowess,  with all teams playing a 2 game format.
     In Cushing’s first contest, Coaches Copeland and Coates saw their lady tigers draw a very seasoned experienced team from Blackwell. With Cushing hurler Jessica Niccum pitching what may have been her best start of the season, the lady tigers came up short, losing a gem that seemed much closer than the final 6 – 1 score. With usually reliable bats, the lady tigers were unable to catch up to the speed and finesse of the Blackwell pitcher.
     In the festival’s closer, Cushing won a hard fought down to the wire game against Jennings, avenging the lady tiger’s previous loss. With both pitchers tossing shut outs, and both defenses keeping the bases empty, Cushing hitters finally got to the Jennings pitcher in the bottom half of the 4th inning powering 3 runs across the plate. Providing runs and strong hitting for the lady tigers were Morgan McGrew, Mikaela Weaver, Hayley Kimbro, Malori Baker, and Kelsey Gaskins. With the lady tigers taking what seemed a safe3 run lead into the final stanza, the Jennings blue jays with tiger help put birds on all bases with no outs. Sandwiched around walks, errors and timely hitting, Jennings was able to tie the game at 3-3 with the bags still loaded with blue jays and no outs before the Cushing lady tigers’ defense stiffened. With a tiring Niccum getting a much needed strike out for the first out, the blue jay threat was subsequently ended on a big league style 4 – 2 – 3 double play. With Cushing’s lady tigers needing but 1 run to win, and Niccum drawing a lead off walk, Coach Copeland went to a “small-ball” strategy in an attempt to manufacture 1 run. With the winning run standing on first, Tristyn Short laid down a near perfect sacrificial bunt moving the runner to second. Next up in the batting order was reliable hitting Morgan McGrew. With Coach Copeland calling for a risky “hit and run”, McGrew came thru with what turned into a game winning single, allowing a streaking Niccum to cross the plate, missing the plate in her first attempt bringing a gasping Cushing crowd and the tiger bench to their feet before racing the catcher back to home plate to make the winning run official.         
     Next up for the 8 & 3 CMS lady softballers will be a home game Monday evening at 4:30 pm against a tough Perkins team, followed by a double header Tuesday evening  4:pm at Oak Grove, then coming home to close out the season with Bristow at 5 pm Thursday evening. 

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