McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 29, 2013

Savanna wins fourth straight Pitt 8 Tournament

From submitted reports
Submitted report

McALESTER — The story of Savanna pitching ace Bryn Houlton hasn’t yet ended. But however the final text will read, it will certainly contain this line:

Houlton never lost a Pitt 8 Tournament championship.

Houlton gave up no runs and just two hits in five innings, striking out seven and leading the Lady Bulldogs to an 8-0 run-rule win against the Stuart Lady Hornets in Thursday’s championship at the Pittsburg County Softball Complex in McAlester. Savanna won the Pitt 8 fastpitch softball tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

“She’s just throwing well,” Savanna coach Angie Wilson said of Houlton, who’s still recovering from a torn medial collateral ligament she suffered in May.

“She’s been in a brace for eight weeks, so I thought she might not, but she’s throwing well. She’s probably not throwing as hard as she was at the end of last year, but she’s close.”

The Lady Hornets’ only real scoring chance came in the top of the second, which began with Emilee Beck reaching on an error. Jessie Jones singled up the middle, moving Beck to second, but Kayla Smith popped a pitch high into the air above home plate.

Savanna catcher Jordin Wilson couldn’t catch the ball, but the infield fly rule went into effect for an automatic out. Both runners tried to move up a bag after the ball hit the dirt, but Wilson threw out Jones at second base to complete an unusual double play.

“As soon we saw the ball hit the ground and bounce off the catcher’s shin-guard, both of us yelled ‘go,’” Stuart coach Chance Chapman said. “I thought it was going to run back here to the on-deck circle."

Despite having to deal with a runner at third, the suddenly two outs might’ve taken some pressure off Houlton. She got Megan Jernigen to fly out to center to end the inning, then retired nine of the final 10 batters she faced.

“I relaxed a lot,” Houlton said. “Just get on top of them and pitch my pitches.”

Houlton also gave the Lady Dawgs the only run they’d need in the  bottom of the first. With Hannah Cox at third, Houlton dropped a perfect bunt up the third base line, and Cox scored when Chassity Garvin couldn’t field the suicide squeeze.

Three batters later, Baleigh Drake made it 2-0 with a grounder back to pitcher Makayla Clark. Despite there being two outs, Clark tried to throw home instead of to first, and Wilson beat the throw.

The sequence highlighted a night in which Stuart made too many mental mistakes to hang with a Savanna team dreaming of a Class 2A state championship. An errant throw by Garvin in the bottom of the third led to Savanna’s third run of the game, and a series of errors led to three more runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Tannah Heddleston, Savanna’s designated player and nine-hole hitter, led off the fourth with a single down the third base line, took second on a bunt single by Taylor Haynie, then raced home when Cox singled into center field. Stuart center fielder Cierra Chapman tried to throw Hailey Wilson, the runner who replaced Heddleston, out at the plate, but the ball got away from catcher Smith for one run.

The Lady Dawgs scored again when Smith’s throw got away from Clark covering home plate, and two more errors allowed Cox to get to third. The Lady Dawgs then went up 6-0 on an RBI single by Houlton.

“We threw it around way to much and gave them way too many runs,” Coach Chapman said. He added that to beat Savanna, the Lady Hornets “would’ve had to play flawless.”

Heddleston led off the bottom of the fifth with a single almost identical to her fourth-inning single. Savanna leadoff hitter Haynie then blasted one over the head of left fielder Kylie Jernigen all the way to the left field wall.

Hailey Wilson scored easily from first, and Haynie raced home just behind her for a two-run inside-the-park home run that forced the run rule. Haynie finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

“About chest-high, right down the gut,” Haynie said of her homer. “I was expecting a change-up, so I planned on having my weight back.

“She (pitched with) inconsistency, so I just set my mind on what pitch I wanted and I waited for it.”

Also beating Crowder and Pittsburg in the tournament, Savanna improved to 12-3. Beating Indianola and Kiowa, Stuart improved to 15-5.

Kiowa beat Crowder in the third-place game, 14-1 in three innings. Indianola beat Haileyville in the consolation finals, 7-4 in five innings.

Contact Matt Goisman at mgoisman@mcalesternes.com.