OKLAHOMA CITY - If Hope McLemore's 17-strikeout performance against Commerce wasn't her best, one has to wonder how tough she is when she is really on.
McLemore yielded only two hits and was in trouble just once in top-ranked Ringling's 3-1 victory over the Lady Tigers in the first round of the Class 2A state fast-pitch softball tournament.
“This wasn't her best outing,” Ringling coach Steve Pybas said, noting that she had fanned 21 once.
“She was as good as they said she was,” Commerce coach Jerry Myers said. “I was proud of the girls and the way they battled.”
McLemore, who is headed for the University of Arkansas, helped herself right off the bat - literally and figuratively.
She hit the first pitch of the game from CHS' Alysia Leonard over the left field fence for a home run.
However, the Lady Tigers battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the first.
A walk to Kourtney Reading was sandwiched around strikeouts by Jacey Knight and Mandy Watson.
Courtney Watson drew another walk, then Johna Sharp singled home Reading.
McLemore accounted for the Lady Devils' second run in the third when she doubled with one out and scored on a single by Mindy McElroy.
The final run of the night came in the fifth. Mary Jane Farris singled, was sacrificed to second by Jessica Crane and scored on a single down the first base line by McElroy.
Commerce had only two baserunners after breaking through in the first.
Watson drew a two-out walk in the third, but was left stranded.
Knight had a two-out single in the fifth. She stole second, but Reading struck out.
McLemore got strikeouts to register the first eight outs of the game, which was played at the Amateur Softball Association's Hall of Fame stadium complex.
McLemore and McElroy accounted for four of the Lady Devil's seven hits against Leonard, who struck out three.
Sixth-seeded Latta upset No. 3 Colbert 1-0 during Thursday's play.
In other games, it was No. 2 Healdton 5, No. 11 Stroud 2, and No. 4 Rush Springs 10, No. 5 Mangum 2.
Healdton faces Latta at noon while Ringling tackles Rush Springs at 2 p.m.
The championship game will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.