By Christian Potts
BROKEN ARROW - Few fast pitch softball programs have quite the tradition of success as the Broken Arrow Lady Tigers.
They're tied among all Oklahoma schools with 11 state championships in the sport. The Lady Tigers won six of nine Class 6A state championships between 2001 and 2009, but it's actually been since that 2009 title that B.A. has won state.
This year's squad is on a mission to change that and took a significant step in that direction Wednesday, finishing off a 6A regional tournament championship with a 16-3 victory against Sand Springs.
The win gives Broken Arrow (28-10) one of the eight spots in the Class 6A state tournament, which will take place next Thursday through Saturday in Oklahoma City.
"Different kids come through, and they know what the expectations are," said B.A. Coach Randall King. "And we try to uphold them to that every year."
King's players share the same sentiment.
"It's all about having pride and just giving our all for the program," said Lady Tiger sophomore shortstop Emily Evans.
Broken Arrow bowed out in the quarterfinal round at the state tournament last year to the eventual champion, Southmoore.
Though they've been a regular participant in the state tournament, the Lady Tigers last reached the championship game in 2014. That all adds plenty of fuel to the fire burning in this year's squad in trying to bring that 12th championship back to the trophy case.
"It would be huge, for all of us seniors, that's our dream, that's what we're shooting for and we know we can do it," first baseman Emma Trine said.
"(We know) that every game could be our last, so we have to go out and do as much as possible, because it really could be our last game. So we're really playing for each other."
The Lady Tigers started off Wednesday's championship game playing small ball, using sacrifice bunts, infield hits and hustle.
In the first four innings, B.A. managed eight runs off of nine hits that included two infield hits, a bunt single, two sacrifice bunts and five stolen bases. Then, they broke the game wide open in an eight-run fifth inning.
Evans and Taylor Clay had back-to-back triples that brought in three runs, and Aliya Scarborough ripped a three-RBI home run over the left-field fence.
"That's kind of how I like to play; if you've got speed, take advantage of it," King said. "And we've got some people in the middle of the order that have got a little bit of power, and it's a good combination for us."
Senior Adison Normandin benefited from the big run support and pitched a complete game for the Lady Tigers, scattering six hits and giving up three runs, all on a final-inning home run by Sand Springs first baseman Jaden Jordan.
Evans was 3-for-4 with four runs driven in, Maysie Childers had a 3-for-3 day and Maddie Messenger was 2-for-3 with three runs driven in for Broken Arrow.
King likes the resiliency his team has shown as it's battled through some injury issues during the season, as well as a challenging District 6A-4 race.
"The top five in our district were extremely tough; they made us compete every game, and that's what you need going into the tournament," King said.
"We just keep battling through adversity, and this group's just done a great job."
The Lady Tigers got themselves into great shape in the bracket on Tuesday with a second-round win against Sand Springs, rolling to a 9-0 shutout victory. In all, they won their three games on the week by a combined 36-3 score.
"We've been kind of up and down, but we played at the right time, and we're swinging the bats pretty good right now, especially the last two days," King said. "And that's what it takes if we want a chance to go win it."
The Sandites, who were the third-place finisher in District 6A-3, got to the championship game earlier Wednesday by defeating Muskogee, 10-0. They finished with a 25-16 record.
Setting the 6A bracket
Three more Class 6A regional tournaments wrapped up Wednesday, while the other four will conclude Thursday at Choctaw, Stillwater, Jenks and Southmoore.
At Edmond Memorial, the host Lady Bulldogs have been one of the favorites in the class all year, and they rolled, defeating Edmond Santa Fe, 12-3, in the championship game. The Lady Bulldogs piled up 45 runs in three regional wins.
Also impressive in advancing to the state tournament was Mustang, which hosted as well and won three straight games by a total margin of 29-2, capping the regional off with a 12-1 victory against rival Yukon.
Westmoore's regional produced one of the wildest games of the season, a four-hour edition of the Moore War between Westmoore and Moore on Tuesday. Tied 11-11 after seven innings, the teams each scored two in the eighth; then Moore matched Westmoore's five runs in the 10th to again extend the game.
KK King's third home run of the game helped Westmoore to a 21-18 advantage in the top of the 11th, only for Moore to tie it in the bottom half on Libby Jaques' fourth home run of the night. Moore would win it, 22-21, on a fielding error in the 12th inning.
The Lady Lions then found the going smoother on Wednesday, punching their state tournament ticket with a 10-0 win against the Lady Jaguars.