Red Oak appears to be in position to make another run toward the Class B state championship — with a familiar face trying to recapture former glory.
Coach Casey Butcher once again has the No. 2 Lady Eagles (26-12) back in the state tournament. He guided Red Oak to five consecutive state championships from 2012-2016, and two of its three consecutive Class A slow-pitch softball state titles in 2016 and 2017 before coaching two seasons at McCurtain.
He said the motto this year has been, "Be Committed," and added that the Lady Eagles have all bought in. Butcher said it's hard to compare this team to any of his state championship teams — but he is confident with the Lady Eagles' offensive abilities.
"I feel like their offense is comparable to some of those clubs they've had in the past," he said.
Red Oak has two seniors this year in Grace Montgomery and Trista Ober, who moved from right field to third base in 2019.
Butcher noted the maturity and the leadership his two seniors had. He also had praise for the job the other coaches did when he was gone in molding them. Butcher said both of them are able to square the ball up and he's proud of how they've grown.
The coach said this year's team is probably the youngest one he's ever coached, with some freshmen being contributors to the 2019 Lady Eagles.
They have Kaylee Cannon at catcher, Courtney Adams at shortstop, Graciee Noggle at second base, Breezy Lovell has been the team's flex out in right field.
Butcher has also has the chance to coach his daughter, Maycee.
"Being able to experience going to the state tournament with her is huge," Butcher said of his daughter. "...To be able to win one with her would be very special. It'd mean the world to me."
He said the Lady Eagles were going to brush up on their defense, such as some coverages he didn't like in the regional tournament against Smithville.
Butcher also talked about fixing things and making adjustments at the plate. He added there were some situational things that needed cleaning.
He's not worried about the offense, and said Red Oak needs to make plays, not have a ton of two-out walks and not have extra base runners through walks and errors.
"That's what we'll have to do in order to give ourself a chance, in my opinion," he said.
Contact Corey Stolzenbach at firstname.lastname@example.org