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The Byng softball drop-kicked that monkey right off their collective backs during a Class 4A District Tournament showdown with Ada last Thursday at the Bobby Johns softball complex.
The Lady Pirates pounded a season-high 14 hits and buried Ada 13-1 in the opener before capturing the district championship with a 5-2 come-from-behind win in Game 2.
Byng improved to 15-17 on the season and advances to a regional tournament this week while Ada — which lost nine of its final 10 games — finishes its fall season at 8-19.
It was the fourth straight season Ada and Byng had crossed paths in the playoffs and the Lady Cougars had sent the Lady Pirates packing in the previous three meetings.
Not this time.
“I’m so excited for them That’s the best we’ve played all year,” said Byng head coach Andi Hurst. “They deserved to win both games. I felt like we were the better team.”
In a cost-cutting measure, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association is expected to cease providing district championship plaques in fall baseball and softball next year. Hurst said getting one of the final trophies made the victories over Ada even more special.
“Not only did we make history today by beating Ada, but getting that last trophy to hang up in our locker room is exciting,” she said.
In the opener, Byng scored early and often, getting all 13 runs in the first three innings (and 11 of its 14 hits) off Byng pitchers Lindi Robinson and reliever Krysten Wallace.
It was a different story in Game 2 as Byng needed three runs in the top of the fifth to break a 2-2 tie.
“It was two totally different games,” Hurst said. “We played defense well and did things right. We stayed up and stayed positive the whole time.”
Byng 13, Ada 1
Tasia Nelson’s two-RBI double was the highlight of a three-run Byng first inning.
The Lady Pirates added four runs in the second with Layna Abbott supplying a two-run triple and Alexis Hill pounding an RBI double as the Byng lead ballooned to 7-0.
Ada scored its lone run in the bottom of the second when Brittney Lee led off with a base hit, stole second, advanced to third on single by Tara Horton and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Natalie Keel.
The Lady Cougars had plenty of chances to make a game of it, but left the bases loaded in the third and fourth frames.
Meanwhile, Byng broke things open with six runs in the top of the third inning. Tatum Hill tripled while Nelson and Abbott both blasted two-RBI doubles in that BHS uprising. Tara Warner added an RBI double. After Nelson’s double, she was caught in a run down between second and third and hurt an ankle during the play by stayed in the game (and played the second contest) as Byng’s catcher.
Abbott had a big game at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four RBIs while Nelson also had four RBIs in a 2-for-4 showing. Alexis Hill also had three hits and scored twice for Byng while Rhyann Case and Tara Warner both had two hits and scored two runs each.
“We had a lot good strong hits,” said Hurst of Byng’s seven extra-base hits in the contest.
Horton had two of six Ada hits in the game.
Byng 5, Ada 2
Brittney Lee hit a two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the first inning to give the Lady Cougars the early 2-0 advantage. Kendal Johnson and Tara Horton also had base hits in the inning.
But the Ada offense was silenced over the next six frames as Byng sophomore hurler Rachel Benes allowed just two more hits the rest of the game. Benes allowed a combined 10 Ada hits in earning both mound wins for Byng.
Morgan Freeman, Ada’s freshman pitcher, tossed two shutout innings to end Game 1 and didn’t allow a run during the first two innings of the second district contest. Byng’s Lauryn Humphers finally broke that ice in dramatic fashion by hitting a line drive home run over the left field wall to lead off the third inning. Her first varsity home run cut the Ada lead in half at 2-1.
“That was huge. That was a great way to get us some momentum going,” Hurst said. “I knew Ada was going to come out fighting because that’s just how they are. But we never got down. It took us a little bit of time to adjust to the pitcher (Freeman). After we adjusted, we put the ball in play, ran the base well and it turned out good for us.”
Byng got another run in the fourth inning to tie the game at 2-2. Benes hit a two-out double and scored on a clutch RBI hit by Tasia Nelson.
Humphers — who lead a nine-hit Byng attack with a 3-for-3 showing — led off the fifth inning when her “swinging bunt” rolled down the third base line and came to a stop in fair territory after hitting a mountain of chalk. Nine-hole hitter Tara Warner followed with a single to left field.
Ryanna Case reached on an Ada error and Humphers scored on the play before Alexis Hill pounded a two-RBI double to give Byng a three-run cushion.
Freeman stranded Hill at third with three straight outs and didn’t give up another run, but Ada’s offense failed to give her any more run support.
Ada threatened in the bottom of the seventh when Kendal Johnson hit a two-out single and Elizabeth Redman brought the tying run to home plate. But Alexis Walker grounded out to end the game.
Benes and Alexis Hill had finished with two hits each for Byng.
Hurst said she’s happy to see seniors Alexis Hill, Tatum Hill and Layna Abbott get an opportunity to compete in a regional tournament.
“These three seniors are pretty special. They were sophomores when I came to Byng, and they’ve always worked hard and been loyal to me ... never missed practice and always hustled. This is big for them and me,” she said.
Ada head coach Scott Simpson bids farewell to seven seniors: Alexis Walker, Lindi Robinson, Brittney Lee, Stevona Gilbert, Jordan Denio, Brooklyn Cupps and Madison Cartwright.