WELCH – Scott Neighbors knew his Welch Lady Wildcats likely would be paired with Barnsdall and Copan in their Class A fast-pitch softball regional, but Morrison was the surprise.
"We weren't really counting on them," Neighbors said. "We thought we'd get Dewar, Davenport, Depew, something like that. It's hard to guess what the state is going to do. We kinda knew that Barnsdall, Copan and ourselves were in it since we're all up in the corner."
Fifth-ranked Copan (27-6) earned the host duties and faces Morrison (6-10) in the noon opener Thursday. The 10th-ranked Lady Wildcats (21-5) and Barnsdall (14-20) tangle at 2 p.m.
Welch rolled to a 12-2 victory over Afton in their district final. It had beaten Oaks Mission 11-1 then topped Afton 5-1 in the winners' bracket final.
"We've had on again, off again situations, but since we dropped the one against Commerce in the Wyandotte tournament (10-2), we've stayed pretty hooked up," Neighbors said. "We haven't played bad. I thought we had a little drop-off against Afton the first time in districts (the 5-1 win), but we came back in the final game and played real well. That is what you want to do, play when the money is on the line."
The Lady Wildcats warmed up for the regional with a 5-3 victory over Foyil on Monday. The Lady Panthers are in a Class 2A regional at Drumright.
"We made a lot of mistakes, but I think the kids are pretty focused," Neighbors said.
Copan swept South Coffeyville 9-0 and 15-1 to win its district while Barnsdall advanced with a 12-1 and 9-8 sweep of Woodland.
Morrison defeated Agra 6-3 in the "if" game at their district tournament. Agra had forced a second game by rallying for an 8-4 victory.
The Lady Wildcats are looking for their first state tournament berth since 2007.
"When I took the job, the first question I asked was 'what are your aspirations or goals?' and it was 'make the state tournament,'" Neighbors said. "We took the first step for that this past week. We are on step 2."
Neighbors says he's got a team of "nobodys" - and he's content with that.
"That to me probably says more about our team than anything É you can't single out a kid on our team that is 'they are the team,'" Neighbors said. "Lexie was down against Ketchum in our tournament, and Paige stepped up and threw a no-hitter against Fairland. We've had situations with injuries where we've moved kids around, and they have stepped up."
He cited the district championship game with Afton, where Tylor Dodson was intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
"They were not going to let her get on," Neighbors said. "Katie Jo (Armstrong) came up a batter later and hit a triple. There is nobody to pitch around on this team."