WELCH - Just like any trip to Oklahoma City during summer months, there are detours along the way.
Third-ranked Welch had to take one to reach the Class A state softball tournament for a second straight year.
An opening-round, 3-2 loss to Woodland meant the Lady Wildcats had to win three games just to get to the clincher, a 4-1 decision over Oaks.
“It's just amazing - it was something, Welch coach Josh Schertz said. “The girls never got up tight. I think a lot of people wrote us off.
Instead, they're in the fast-pitch state for the second straight year. They're actually making a third straight trip to state - having qualified in slow-pitch softball last spring.
“The experience factor took over, Schertz said of Friday's rally. “After we beat Woodland, I told the girls we've been here before. We've had our backs to the wall and Oaks hasn't.'
Oaks was in the drivers' seat after decking Barnsdall 3-0 in the first round and Woodland 6-2 in the winners' bracket final.
The Lady Wildcats remained alive when they bounced Barnsdall in a 13-inning marathon. Sierra Hankins' chopper to short drove in the winning run with one out in the 13th inning, sending Welch to a 1-0 victory.
Then they beat Woodland 7-3 Friday morning, then swept Oaks 7-0 and 4-1.
“I am really proud of the girls, Schertz said. “That is quite an accomplishment to come back through four elimination games. It's amazing.
The Lady Wildcats broke out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the “if game on a base hit by Hankins.
Welch bumped the lead to 3-0 in the second when a bunt by Katy McClurg was mishandled, allowing Allison Chenoweth to score. She had led off the inning with a single.
“We jumped out in the first inning on everybody, Schertz said. “That is the key. If we score early, we're a tough team to beat. We bunted the ball well, we ran the bases well, we hit well. We got contributions from a lot of girls. It was a total team effort.
Oaks scratched out a run in the bottom of the sixth, but the Lady Cats created the final margin in the seventh on an error.
Welch managed only five hits in the game. Jordan Amos, Hankins, Chenoweth, Kirsten Leppla and Ashley Marlow each had a single.
Chrz struck and 10 and walked none while limiting Oaks to one hit.
Welch 7, Oaks 0
Chrz and the Lady Cats forced the deciding game with a two-hit shutout. She struck out 12 and walked one.
Welch exploded for six runs in the first inning.
Amos had a RBI single while Hankins drove in a run with a fielder's choice
Two passed balls and a sacrifice fly by Krystin Marlow accounted for the other three runs.
The seventh Welch run came in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Leppla.
Chrz helped herself offensively with a pair of singles. Leppla, Amos and Ashley Marlow each had one hit.
Welch 7, Woodland 3
The Lady Wildcats, who managed just one run and seven hits in the marathon with Barnsdall, didn't have that problem in Friday's opener.
They erupted for three runs and three hits in the first inning alone. Leppla doubled home a run while Amos and Hankins each picked up a RBI with base hits.
Welch added another tally in the third on a single by Leppla and a single by Hankins to drive in the run.
Leppla doubled, Sneddin singled and Hankins had a grounder to give the Lady Cats a final three runs in the fifth.
Woodland scored two runs in the sixth and got one last tally in the seventh to create the final margin.
Welch pounded out 11 hits in the game, with Leppla collecting three. Amos and Hankins had two hits each while Ashley Marlow, Chrz, Sneddin and Krystin Marlow added one hits each.
Chrz had 11 strikeouts and no walks while scattering three hits.
She threw all 41 innings over the two days and Amos handled the bulk of the catching during the marathon run.
“To have to pitch and catch 41 innings over 26 hours, that is a tall task, Schertz said. “We got a scare in the Woodland game (Amos hurt a thumb in the sixth inning). “We were up 7-0, so we put Ashley Marlow behind the plate. We tried to groove some fast balls and just survive it. But she played well in the next game.