(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
ORAN -- The Oran Lady Eagles softball team made a splash in their first year of fall softball, using a strong defense to win the district tournament. Unfortunately, that same defense failed the Lady Eagles in a 6-0 loss to Miller in the Class 1 sectional game Wednesday afternoon.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third inning, Miller's Lacy Blevins singled with one out. Two consecutive errant throws on bunts by the Lady Cardinals' Sam Hendrickson and Hannah Wilkerson allowed Blevins to score and put runners on second and third. Hailee Hendricks then hit a sharp single to the outfield that was misplayed and went all the way to fence, plating two runs in the process.
Hendricks then scored on a fielder's choice and the Lady Cardinals had a 4-0 lead.
"Defense hasn't been a problem for us," said Oran coach Sara Heisserer. "That's what carried us through districts when our bats went quiet. These girls haven't been in this situation before and I think they buckled a little bit under the pressure."
"Last year we lost 4-2 in the state championship game and every single run was scored on an error," Walters said. "That is what wins games this time of year. If you don't make mistakes you can be successful and we didn't make an error today."
Miller (25-2) added two more runs in the fourth inning when Sam Gillespy led off with a walk and scored when a single by Blevins was misplayed. Blevins, who reached third on the error, scored on a groundout to give the Lady Cardinals a 6-0 lead.
That would would be all Miller would need as Hendricks was dominate on the mound. The all-state pitcher allowed only two hits and one walk while striking out 15 Oran hitters.
"She's a really good player," said Walters. "She pitched a bunch of ball games in a row for us and got a little tired but she had four days off before today and she was rested. She's a pretty special player."
"It was discouraging," said Heisserer. "We just didn't adjust. We were swinging no matter what."
Oran senior Jodi Urhahn tripled in the fourth while Cassie Graviett singled in the seventh for the Lady Eagles' only hits.
Callie Kielhofner took the loss on the mound, finishing the season with a record of 12-3. Kielhofner gave up six runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out seven.
"Callie pitched all but two games for us this year," Heisserer said. "She threw a heck of a game today, the defense just wasn't there."
Oran finished their first fall season with a record of 14-3.
"I just told them to keep their heads up," Heisserer said. "This is our first year playing in the fall and I told them this is a stepping stone for us."
Oran will graduate six seniors, including Kielhofner.
"They all work hard. They are a great group of girls and I'm very proud of them," Heisserer said.