Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
There won’t be much need for pregame introductions when the Byng Lady Pirate softball team hosts Ada Thursday afternoon for a Class 4A District Tournament showdown.
The local rivals will start their best-of-three clash at 3 p.m. and will finish up the district that evening with an if-necessary contest if the teams split the first two games.
It will mark the fourth straight fastpitch season that Ada and Byng have clashed in the playoffs. Ada hosted Byng in district tournament action in 2010 and 2011 before the two teams met in an elimination game at a 4A Regional Tournament in Byng last year.
Ada has sent Byng packing each of those previous seasons
“Hopefully, this year we’ll end their season instead of them ending ours. That would be wonderful,” said Byng head coach Andi Hurst. “We’re excited to be hosting. We have such a good crowd and fan base, and that’s definitely going to help, too. It’s always a good game, especially with all the past experience in the rivalry.”
Ada head coach Scott Simpson figured another Cougar-Pirate matchup may happen this year.
“It didn’t surprise me a whole lot. They’re kind of in our boat. They lost a couple of good seniors last year. They’re kind of trying to find themselves this year, the same as us,” he said. “It’s always fun. I was happy with the draw. To me, any kind of rivalry game is exciting.”
Byng dumped Ada 8-0 in a regular-season road game. The Lady Cougars committed seven errors in that contest.
“I think that definitely gives us a little bit of the momentum,” Hurst said of the previous matchup.
Simpson hopes his team can forget about that game.
“Byng’s going to hit the ball ... so we have to play some defense. Against your close rivals, you want to put on your best face, and we definitely didn’t do that the last time,” he said. “We’ve played pretty well against Byng the last couple of years, and we know we’re capable of playing better than that. We’ve got to forget the past and go play like we can play.”
Hurst feels like the Lady Pirates may be peaking at just the right time.
“That was our plan the whole time — work on things and do things right and when playoffs come around, hopefully all of our ducks will be in a row,” she said. “We’ve been playing well. We’ve been coming together well.”