Lady Huskies hope to break winless streak

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Members of the Lady Huskies team break from a pre-inning huddle at a recent Pawhuska High School softball game. PHS fans are hoping for better results in the second week of the 2014 season after the Lady Huskies opened the fastpitch campaign by losing 10 straight decisions. Jack Buzbee/J-C Correspondent

They’re young, they’re talented…and they’re still winless.

Softball victories continued to elude the Pawhuska Lady Huskies throughout the initial week of the 2014 high school fastpitch season. Following two-a-day losses Thursday through Saturday at the Cushing Classic tournament and a pair of hard-fought defeats Monday in Blackwell, the Lady Huskies were taking an 0-10 record into a Tuesday road showdown against the Caney Valley Lady Trojans.

While low-run totals proved detrimental to the PHS cause in a few of the early contests, the Pawhuska girls are getting consistent offensive production from juniors Keylee Kirk and Sarah Phillippi, sophomore Sydney Sellers, and freshmen Kyleigh Riebel and Star Sweeden.

Three players — outfielder Phillippi, third baseman Sellers and shortstop Kirk — have appeared in all 10 Lady Huskie games. In addition to being excellent on defense, their batting statistics show why PHS head coach Olivia Chronister keeps them high in the lineup.

Kirk is hitting for a team-leading .409 average and has scored 10 of Pawhuska’s 30 runs for the season. She has reached base in more than half of her plate appearances by also walking four times and getting hit with pitches on three other occasions. Phillippi’s nine hits for a .321 average include a pair of doubles and five runs batted in. Sellers has racked up a team-leading 11 hits (including a double and a triple) and shares the top RBI total with Phillippi.

Sweeden handles the bulk of the Lady Huskie catching duties while carrying a .389 average and her five hits include a double and triple. She has knocked in three runs and scored three times. Riebel is batting .364 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. Also, she is among six Lady Huskies to have scored three runs.

In Monday’s game two at Blackwell, the host Lady Maroons rallied from a 13-6 deficit in their last two at-bats to overcome the Lady Huskies, 16-14. Pawhuska scored three times in the top of the first, second and third innings before adding four runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth. Following a leadoff single by Sellers, the Lady Huskies brought the tying run to the plate three times in the seventh but the game ended on consecutive strikeouts and a line out to center. Five-run outbursts in both the fifth and sixth lifted Blackwell, which finished with 14 hits compared to a dozen for the visitors.

Sellers collected three hits for PHS, while Phillippi, Sweeden and senior Tanaya Thomas both got two (including a double for each of them) and Kirk, Riebel and junior Logan Ratzlaff had one apiece. Sweeden drove in three runs and Ratzlaff broke a 6-6 tie in the third when her bunt rolled into left field — resulting in a two-RBI four-bagger.

PHS stole a dozen bases in the contest, with Kirk swiping six and Phillippi stealing three. Lady Huskie freshman Ashley Henley pitched 4 2/3 innings in relief of Thomas and junior Breanna Redeagle.

In Monday’s opening game, Redeagle had relieved Thomas in the first and weathered seven full innings before dropping an 11-3 decision to the Alva Lady Goldbugs. Redeagle’s RBI double (she also drove in another run) highlighted the Lady Huskies’ four-hit attack, which also included singles by Riebel, Phillippi and Sellers.

Alva took and 3-0 advantage in the top of the first and added two more runs in both the third and fourth, one in the fifth and three in the seventh. The Lady Husies scored single tallies in the second, third (on a steal of home by Kirk) and seventh.

In last Thursday’s opener at the Cushing tourney, Redeagle scattered seven hits and struck out two in dropping a heart-breaking, 2-1, contest to the host Lady Tiger junior-varsity. Later that evening, Henley took a 3-2 lead over Agra into the sixth inning before losing a 7-3 decision.

On Friday, Pawhuska managed only two hits (singles by Kirk and Sweeden) in a 6-0 loss to the Cushing varsity squad. Thomas shut out the Lady Tigers over the first two innings and gave up only two hits and two earned runs (she walked two batters and hit four with pitches) before getting help from Lauren Garrett in the fourth. A double from Riebel and singles by Sweeden, Sellers and Mary Jo Upchurch summed up the PHS hitting in falling, 10-0, Friday night to Harrah. Redeagle started and was relieved by Henley in the second.

The Lady Huskies battled into extra innings with Pawnee in tourney action on Saturday before succumbing, 6-5. Pawhuska went ahead four times in the contest, leading 1-0 in the first, 3-2 in the fifth and 4-3 in the seventh. In the bonus eighth, Phillippi lined a two-out single to center to knock in Henley and put PHS on top, 5-4. But two walks, a hit batter and a pair of sacrifice flies lifted Pawnee over the Lady Huskies for the second time this season.

Phillippi had three singles, an RBI and two stolen bases in four at-bats. The other PHS hits were by Kirk, who scored twice, and Sellers, who had an RBI. Thomas gave up two earned runs while striking out four in 5-plus innings and Redeagle held the Lady Black Bears hitless over the final 2 1/3.

Redeagle pitched three shutout innings in relief of Henley in a 3-0 tourney loss to Okemah on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Panthers scored a run in the bottom of the first and two more times in the second, as both squads collected five hits for the game. Kirk picked up a pair of singles and stole a base. Phillippi doubled and the other PHS hits were by Sellers and Redeagle.

Pawhuska’s junior high team will continue its busy schedule by hosting a tournament at the local field this Saturday. The Junior Lady Huskies are also to play home games Monday (beginning at 5 p.m.) versus Cleveland and Friday (starting at 4:30 p.m.) against Dewey.

The Lady Huskie varsity is slated to play at Perry on Tuesday, Aug. 26, in a three-teamer with Chisholm. On the following Thursday, PHS travels to Barnsdall and on Friday, the home girls go to Dewey.

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