Stuart wins second state title
Oct. 8 – OKLAHOMA CITY – Chloe Akin rushed to a fly ball and dived to perform a slippery catch that sealed Stuart’s second state fastpitch championship.
The senior center fielder said she was nervous adjusting for the catch – but that became the exclamation point for third-seeded Stuart in a 5-3 win over eighth-placed Whitesboro in the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Class B Fast-Pitch Softball State Championship.
“I dream about it all the time,” Akin said of his title win. “It’s incredible.”
Stuart (37-5) won his second state fastpitch championship with his first title in 1964.
Coach Chance Chapman said he was confident his center fielder would make that play as soon as the ball got to him.
“Chloe does a great job in center field, and she’s just a bulldog. She’s a go-getter,” he said. “When that ball hit, I could tell it was going to be a tough game…and then all of a sudden you just see it do this slide and grab.”
Chapman said it was fitting that Akin got the last take after dealing with recent difficulties off the court, including the loss of a family member.
“She told us, ‘I’m focused and I’m doing it for him,'” Chapman said. “And of course, it was just appropriate. It was like a storybook ended there.”
Geralyn Haney pitched Stuart early, starting the game with a hard hit single. After a sacrificial bunt from Kaylee Ford to get Haney forward, Haili Igou added a line drive down the center that tagged Haney and put Stuart on the board first.
In the top of the second inning, Haddie Lindley got on the sacks with a fly ball to the center, and Akin followed by putting the ball in play. The pitch to first went over base, giving Lindley time to score and put Stuart up 2-0 after two sets.
Haney and Ford repeated their early game feats in the top of the third inning with back-to-back singles to keep the Stuart bats warm. Igou was paraded around, filling the bags with Lady Hornets.
That’s when Jadyn Dalton took her turn at home plate and launched a line drive toward the center field fence for a punt double.
But Whitesboro (18-18) quickly found an offensive rhythm, scoring one in the bottom frame to give Stuart a 5-1 lead after three innings.
Whitesboro added another run late in the fourth inning, but efforts from both teams kept the game scoreless for the next two and a half innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, Whitesboro used a sacrificial bunt to cut the lead to two with two outs. But the next at-bat resulted in Akin’s diving catch to seal the title victory.
Chapman said he was proud of his team’s efforts to jump early and hold off the Lady Bulldogs’ late push.
“I promise you I have the bravest group of players to walk through those doors,” he said. “I promise you.”
Dalton led the way, going 2-4 with three RBIs, followed by Igou going 1-2 with the RBI. Kira Meaders took care of the circle, striking out seven and walking just one in the championship win.
An emotional Chapman smiled as he soaked it all up with a championship medal hanging around his neck after 15 years as a coach.
“This is a dream !” he said. “I mean, it’s a dream.”
Contact Derek Hatridge at [email protected]