OKLAHOMA CITY — Move over, Atwood. South central Oklahoma finally has another fast-pitch state champion.

More than a half-century after the 1956 Atwood Cowgirls won this area’s last fall state title, the Konawa Lady Tigers added their school’s name to the roll of honor in Oklahoma softball’s glamour division Tuesday night at Hall of Fame Stadium.

Konawa, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A when the state tournament began, beat upstart Haskell, 3-1, in a game delayed three times — by rain Saturday, by a wet field Monday and finally, for an hour past Tuesday’s scheduled 6:30 p.m. start time while Red Oak and Sentinel battled into extra innings to settle the Class B title — to complete a sensational 41-1 season.

Tuesday’s victory by the Lady Tigers ended a Cinderella run through the tournament for Haskell, which began Thursday’s action as the tournament’s No. 8 seed but beat No. 1 Oktaha in the first round and No. 4 Ringling in the semifinals Friday to earn a showdown with a Konawa club coming off back-to-back shutouts of Mangum (6-0 Thursday) and No. 3 Apache (2-0 in nine innings Friday).

Saturday’s rain washed out the 2A title game and forced Red Oak and Sentinel — the top two teams in Class B — to come back Tuesday and play the last out of a game that was called with two outs in the seventh inning and Red Oak (which had led 7-0 after six innings) on top, 7-4. Sentinel tied the game with a three-run rally when play was resumed Tuesday, and neither team scored again until the 11th, when Red Oak plated an unearned run (on a passed ball after the inning was kept alive on a botched rundown by Sentinel) to finally wrap up an 8-7 victory.

By the time the Lady Tigers and Haymakers kicked off this year’s state fast-pitch finale, Konawa ace Hilary Kuestersteffen admitted that it took her a few batters for her to finally settle into anything close to the same kind of rhythm she had shown in her shutouts of Mangum and Apache earlier in the tournament.

“At first, I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up,” she said. “I WANTED to play Saturday. I was stressed out the whole two days we had to wait.”

Kuestersteffen’s case of nerves showed in the bottom of the first inning, when she surrendered a leadoff home run to Amber Moats and a one-out single to Jalie Neal, the Haskell pitcher. Neal got as far as third before a nice play by Konawa shortstop Christina Gladden on Kelsey Hembree’s bouncer up the middle finally ended the inning.

“I told her to shake it off,” Konawa senior catcher Erin Fixico said when asked about her conversation with Kuestersteffen following Moats’ line-drive homer to left. “I told her we were going to have to score to win, anyway.”

Fixico went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice in her final varsity fast-pitch contest, driving in a run in Konawa’s two-run third inning and leading off with a single and scoring on an alert baserunning play for a critical insurance run in the sixth.

Kuestersteffen, meanwhile, had to deal with Haskell had baserunners in five of the last six innings and pitched out of a huge jam in the third, but she retired seven of the last eight batters she faced to finally seal the biggest victory by an area fast-pitch team since Eisenhower was President.

“This summer, these girls made up their minds that they were going to win state — no doubt about it,” said Konawa coach Jennifer Matthews, who added this fall’s fast-pitch championship to the slowpitch title she won with her 2002-2003 club. “They practiced hard and worked on what we tried to show them. They really busted their butts, and it paid off.”

Neal, who pitched in and out of trouble throughout her club’s victories Thursday and Friday, worked around errors by her defense in each of the first two innings, leaving a runner on base in the first (aftern Melanie Gladden was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Haskell miscue) and the bases loaded in the second. But she couldn’t overcome three errors in a bizarre third inning that saw Konawa take the lead for good.

Melanie Gladden reached on the third Haskell error of the game to start the third and was sacrificed to second by Courtney Capps. Kuestersteffen reached on another error, sending Gladden to third base, and sophomore Sara Reeves — whose two-run single drove in the only runs of the game in Friday’s win over Apache — hit a blooper to center that fell behind Haskell center fielder Melody Tucker after she raced in too far trying to make the play. Gladden scored on the unusual single, then Fixico blooped another base hit to shallow center to shallow center to plate Kuestersteffen with the second run of the inning.

Haskell threatened to strike right back in the bottom of the third, when Tucker reached first on a passed ball after striking out on a sinker in the dirt and Moats followed with a shot to left-center that Konawa left fielder Amanda Prewett gloved but dropped after a long run, leaving runners at second and third with nobody out.

Kuestersteffen came back, however, to retire Jodi Edmison on a tapper to the mound, and she struck out Neal and Rachel Kriner — Haskell’s three-hole and cleanup hitters — on five pitches to end the inning. The Konawa righthander also got strikeouts to end both the fourth and fifth innings after the Haymakers had had gotten runners into scoring position with two outs each time, then she retired Haskell in order in the sixth and pitched around a two-out infield hit by Moats in the seventh.

Konawa got an insurance run in the sixth, when Fixico singled to left leading off and moved to second when Hembree overran the ball for Haskell's sixth error.

After Prewett lined out to center field, Sydney Stoup grounded out to third, with Fixico moving to third base on the throw to first.

Konawa nine-hole hitter Destini Smith followed with a swinging bunt up the third-base line, and when Haskell third baseman Kelsy Kelly’s late throw pulled first baseman Macy Moore off the bag, Fixico alertly scooted home with the final run of the game.

“This means a lot,” Matthews said amid the celebration following Tuesday’s win. “I’ve got some great kids, and we’ve had great support this season from our fans, our administration and the parents. We couldn’t have done this without them.”

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