By BOB FORREST
DALE — The only real positive to come out of Konawa’s visit to Dale Monday afternoon was that it was on the way to Oklahoma City for some of the Lady Tigers.
Several members of the Konawa softball team (ranked No. 1 in Class 4 this week for the first time this spring) went to OKC after Monday’s game with the No. 4 Lady Pirates, where they attended a BETA convention and spent the night. And coach Jennifer Matthews said her team seemed more intent on getting to the evening’s activities than on taking care of business in the afternoon.
“It seems like any time they girls have anything else to do, they don’t play very well,” Matthews said after watching Dale take just four innings to hand Konawa (20-6) a 14-4, run-rule thumping. “There are times we have to do things we don’t want to, but we still have to go do them.”
And for most of the game, the Lady Tigers played like they wanted to be somewhere else. They were down 9-0 before they scored all four of their runs in the top of the third, then they watched the Lady Pirates — 22-3 and winners of 12 straight games — hit a pair of home runs in the bottom of that inning before ending the game on the run rule by scoring twice more in the fourth with the help of Konawa’s fourth error of the afternoon.
And Monday’s loss was just the beginning of a brutal stretch of road games this week for the Lady Tigers, who are at Davenport (No. 3 in 2A) today and Washington (No. 5 in 4A) Thursday before spending Friday and Saturday at the Hall of Fame Spring Classic in Oklahoma City. Matthews said that despite Monday’s debacle and the rugged road ahead, she is confident her veteran club will right the ship.
“It’s nothing different than any other spring,” she said of her schedule. “They just need to get their heads on straight.”
Konawa wasted a one-out double by Sara Reeves in the first, then Dale took the lead for good with a five-run rally in the bottom of the inning that featured a two-run double by Danielle Dockery and RBI singles by Ashley Sanford and Holly Hill.
After batting around in the first, the Lady Pirates sent eight hitters to the plate in the second and scored four times. Leadoff hitter Kendra Steward, who began the first inning with a single, started the second with a fly ball to left that was misplayed into a double and scored on a single by Sara Vance. Kaci Snyder delivered another run with a double, and Sammi Hembree capped the rally with an RBI single.
Konawa’s offense showed its only real sign of life in the third, when the Lady Tigers scored four times on back-to-back doubles by Melanie Gladden and Reeves, a run-scoring single by losing pitcher Sydney Stoup, an RBI triple to right field by cleanup hitter Courtney Capps and a sacrifice fly by Ciara Kuestersteffen.
But Dale answered with the longball in the bottom of the inning on Steward’s two-run homer and a solo shot from Vance to extend the lead back to 12-4 and ended the game in the fifth on a walkoff, two-run single by winning pitcher Chelsea Jordan.
Steward and Vance were both 3-for-3 in the game with a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs apiece to pace Dale’s 14-hit attack. Sanford finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Dockery had two hits, including a double, and drove in three runs, and Snyder was also 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Konawa finished with nine hits, including Reeves’ two doubles and two singles apiece from Christina Gladden and Brooklyn Akerman in the loss.