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Early going tough on diamond

Lady Huskie outfielders Sarah Phillippi, left, and Jenna Shulanberger (No. 33) try to avoid a collision while chasing a fly ball in Monday’s Pawhuska High School home softball game against the Pawnee Black Bears. Shulanberger, a freshman, left the contest with a sprain following the play. PHS also was to host a game Tuesday and will be back in action locally on Thursday when the Dewey Lady Bulldoggers come to town. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL CAPITAL
Lady Huskie outfielders Sarah Phillippi, left, and Jenna Shulanberger (No. 33) try to avoid a collision while chasing a fly ball in Monday’s Pawhuska High School home softball game against the Pawnee Black Bears. Shulanberger, a freshman, left the contest with a sprain following the play. PHS also was to host a game Tuesday and will be back in action locally on Thursday when the Dewey Lady Bulldoggers come to town. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL CAPITAL
Pawhuska freshman Sydney Sellers catches a throw to third base in front of a sliding base runner Monday during the Lady Huskies’ varsity softball showdown with Pawnee. The visiting Lady Bears scored four runs in the first inning and held off their hosts, 8-4. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL CAPITAL
Pawhuska freshman Sydney Sellers catches a throw to third base in front of a sliding base runner Monday during the Lady Huskies’ varsity softball showdown with Pawnee. The visiting Lady Bears scored four runs in the first inning and held off their hosts, 8-4. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL CAPITAL
Pawhuska High School senior catcher Jordyn Wahpekeche watches the ball as a Pawnee player watches her teammate slide home safely in the Lady Bears’ 8-4 victory Monday at the PHS softball field. The Lady Huskies have a 4 p.m. local game scheduled Thursday versus the Dewey Lady Bulldoggers. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL CAPITAL
Pawhuska High School senior catcher Jordyn Wahpekeche watches the ball as a Pawnee player watches her teammate slide home safely in the Lady Bears’ 8-4 victory Monday at the PHS softball field. The Lady Huskies have a 4 p.m. local game scheduled Thursday versus the Dewey Lady Bulldoggers. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL CAPITAL

Any sign of good fortune for the Pawhuska Lady Huskies thus far the 2013 high school softball season has remained hidden away like a “McGovern-Eagleton ‘72” presidential campaign banner.

First-week results show seven straight losses for the Lady Huskies since their official opener last Thursday at the Cushing Tournament. PHS started by suffering brutal, back-to-back defeats — 11-0 to Morris and 13-0 against Drumright.

“In no way do those scores reflect the overall quality of our team’s play or the all-out effort that the girls have been giving,” PHS head coach Olivia Chronister said. “We just weren’t hitting the ball in those first few games.”

The Lady Huskies received a standout pitching performance Friday from senior Haley Malaske, who carried a three-hit shutout into the final inning before losing, 1-0, to Agra. Malaske struck out nine and walked only three. Her last walk turned into the game’s lone run, however, thanks to a steal of home with two out in the seventh.

In that loss, Pawhuska rapped out five singles — one each by Jordyn Wahpekeche, Sydney Sellers, Sarah Phillippi, Keylee Kirk and Baylee Sutherland. The Lady Huskies put two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh, but could not score against the tough Agra hurler, who notched 15 strikeouts for the game.

The PHS misery at Cushing also included a 9-1 loss to Pawnee on Friday and a pair of Saturday setbacks — 10-5 versus Depew and 10-3 to the host Lady Tigers.

On Monday, the string of character-building defeats resumed for Pawhuska’s home opener versus the arch-rival Pawnee squad. The Lady Huskies spotted the Lady Black Bears a four-run advantage in the top of the first on a two-out rally which sprang from the humblest of beginnings.

Although Malaske struck out the first three Pawnee batters, a dropped third strike on what would have been the final out allowed the visitors to extend the inning. The only hit of the inning followed when two Lady Huskie outfielders collided while attempting to catch a fly ball. After the double, the visitors used some opportunistic base running to cashed in on a pair of walks.

Pawnee added single tallies in each of the next two innings and led, 6-0, before Pawhuska got on the board by scoring a pair of runs (without the benefit of a hit) in the bottom of the third. Mary Jo Upchurch of the Huskies worked a full-count walk to start the frame and eventually crossed the plate on a passed ball. Malaske walked with one out, advanced to third following an infield error and scored on a ground out by sophomore Phillippi.

After the Black Bears added a run with a two-out, two-strike steal of home in the top of the fifth, the Lady Huskies scored one of their own in the home half of the inning to keep their deficit at four (7-3).

Upchurch again got things going by lining a single to right for the first Pawhuska hit of the contest. Following a walk to Malaske, senior Wahpekeche looped a single into left field that loaded the bases. Another PHS senior, Alexis Martin, then drew a walk that forced home Upchurch with the run.

The Lady Huskies pulled within three runs, at 7-4, by scoring a final tally in the sixth. Sophomore Kirk led off with a bunt single and moved around to third base on errant throws. Kirk came across when junior Tanaya Thomas lined an RBI single to left.

In the top of the seventh, Pawnee tacked on an insurance run off a Pawhuska error and a sacrifice fly. Two runners reached base for the Lady Huskies during their final at bat, as Breanna Redeagle had a two-out infield single and Kirk was hit by a pitch. But the Pawnee pitcher then struck out her fourth Lady Huskie of the night to end the contest. She also had walked five batters and hit four.

Malaske went the seven-inning distance in the pitching circle for PHS. The senior allowed six hits and three earned runs while striking out 10 batters, walking three and hitting two with pitches.

Pawhuska, which wound up getting five hits, had runners thrown out at the plate to end the third inning and for the second out of the sixth. Upchurch scored twice and Malaske and Kirk both crossed the plate once for the Lady Huskies. Runs were driven in by Malaske, Phillippi, Martin and Thomas. Also, Thomas, Upchurch and Sellers stole a base apiece.

PHS was to be on the home diamond again on Tuesday against the Caney Valley Lady Trojans. The Dewey Lady Bulldoggers are due to visit for a game set to start at 4 p.m. Thursday. This weekend was supposed to find the Lady Huskies participating in the OKC Shootout. But, PHS opted out of the tournament when construction work at the Softball Hall of Fame field complex caused the games to be moved to Shawnee.

Home games next week are scheduled Monday versus Blackwell (with a 4:30 p.m. first pitch) and Thursday, Aug. 29, against Barnsdall (starting time 4 p.m.). The Lady Huskies have road contests Tuesday at Perry (versus both the host Lady Maroons and Chisholm) and Friday, Aug. 30, at Dewey.

Although some of the Lady Huskie bats have been a little slow warming up, Wahpekeche is hitting at a torrid .500 clip over the first seven games. Malaske (at .308) has the second-highest team average.

Recapping some of the season’s earlier contests:

Morris scored six times in the top of the first inning and put up five more in the second during en route to the 11-0 triumph in the first game of the Cushing tourney. The Lady Eagles lashed out nine hits in the four-inning contest, highlighted by a pair of two-run home runs.

Only five of the 11 Morris runs were earned, as the Pawhuska defense made four errors and its pitchers (Malaske and Breanna Redeagle) combined to give up six bases on balls. The Lady Eagles’s pitcher struck out five and walked four en route to the shutout victory.

The Lady Huskies’ offense managed two singles, one each by Wahpakeche and Malaske. Wahpakeche also stole two bases.

In PHS’s 13-0 humbling versus Drumright, the Tornadoes scored two runs in the top of the first, added three for the third and put up four more in both the fourth and fifth. The runs were the products of 10 Lady Tornado hits, which were aided by a half dozen Lady Huskie errors.

Alexis Martin singled in the first inning and reached base twice for Pawhuska, which had only one other hit. It came off the bat of Wahpakeche.

Pond Creek snapped a 2-2 tie by scoring three runs in the top of the sixth and was still batting with one out and a 5-2 lead when the game was delayed by rain. The Lady Panthers had trailed, 2-0, before scoring a run in the fourth and another in the fifth to even the contest.

Malaske scored the first run of the contest in the bottom of the first inning. The four-year starting leadoff hitter for the Lady Huskies lined and single to right, stole her way to third base and scored on a two-out error.

As pitcher, Malske whiffed one Lady Panther in the first and struck out the side in the second and third. The first batter of the fourth and the first two in the fifth also were retired on strikes by the Lady Huskies’ righthander.

Class 2A Pawhuska increased its advantage to 2-0 in the second after Wahpakeche started things off with a single. The senior stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored off a passed ball. Wahpakeche collected a pair of hits for PHS, which also got a single from Keylee Kirk. Alexis Martin and Jenna Shulanberger each stole a base for the Lady Huskies.

Wahpakeche, a former all-district outfielder, has moved behind the plate this year — taking over the catching duties left open by the graduation of 2013 Pawhuska All-Stater Whitney Hutson.

Returnees for the Lady Huskies include Martin at first base and sophomore shortstop Kirk. They have been joined on the infield by Mary Jo Upchurch as second base and Breanna Redeagle at third. Covering the outfield for Pawhuska have been combinations involving Sarah Phillippi, Logan Ratzlaff, Baylee Sutherland, Sydney Sellers and Jenna Shulanberger.

In an Aug. 10 exhibition contest that featured seven lead changes — including six in the final four innings — the Lady Huskies dropped a 10-7 decision to a PHS alumni squad.

After the alums put one run on the board in the top of the first, there was no additional scoring until the Pawhuska varsity tallied twice in the fourth to go up, 2-1.

A pair of runs in the top of the fifth frame moved the alumni ahead, 3-2, but the Lady Huskies regained the advantage (at 5-3) by scoring three times in the home half of the fifth.

The alumni battled back to a one-run lead, 6-5, by plating three of their own to open the sixth, only to see the resilient 2013 team come back with two more runs in the bottom of the inning and lead, 7-6.

Finally, a four-run explosion in the seventh put the game out of reach for the Lady Huskie veterans, who managed to hold the PHS varsity scoreless in its final at-bats.

The free-swinging alums rapped out 10 hits — twice the number of their current counterparts.

Finishing with two hits (a triple in the fourth inning and a single in the sixth) and two runs batted in for the new-edition Lady Huskies was Haley Malaske, a four-year PHS varsity player who also shined from the pitching circle.

Malaske struck out five batters, while allowing three walks and two earned runs, over the first five innings. Breanna Redeagle, who also pitched had a two-RBI single and scored twice for Pawhuska’s varsity.

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