McALESTER — Many low-seeded teams go into their postseasons with a defeatist’s attitude. They believing they’re worse than the competition and will quickly lose, and usually that’s exactly what happens.
The McAlester Lady Buffaloes took a fourth-seed into their Oct. 9 Regional tournament at Claremore. But instead of fearing the competition, the Lady Buffs went at Skiatook and Claremore, going undefeated the first day and coming within eight outs of a trip to State.
“I challenged them after our last ballgame with Tahlequah to see if were mentally able to go back and compete at the level that we can, and they rose to that challenge,” Lady Buffs coach Justin Bond on Tuesday.
“We wish we could’ve put ourselves in a better Regional, which really probably ended up being the difference=. Because I really believe how we were playing at the end, we were a state tournament-caliber team.”
The Lady Buffs started their Regional by beating Skiatook, 6-4, on Oct. 9. Cheyenne Selman then pitched a no-hitter against Claremore that day to put McAlester a game away from State.
Battling hip and lower back pain all season, Selman didn’t pitch the last week of the regular season so she’d be able to pitch at Regionals. The strategy worked, as Selman pitched all 26 innings at Regionals, giving up six earned runs and striking out 28.
“She was hurting on the last day, and she’s established herself as one of the fiercest competitors that we’ve had,” Bond said of Selman.
“Claremore only pitched to her once in the final day for the two ballgames, giving her the respect offensively. And in the circle, she basically dominated them almost for two ballgames.”
The Lady Buffs went up 2-0 on Claremore in the fourth inning of Thursday’s championship game, with April Calistro and Courtney Smith both dropping down sacrifice bunts to help push runs across. But Claremore tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, then took the lead on two errors in the sixth to win 4-2.