WYANDOTTE - Mandy Watson just wanted to make contact.
She did more than that - she singled home the tying and winning runs for Commerce with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning for a wild 5-4 victory against Wyandotte in the championship game of their Class 2A softball regional on Friday.
“I was just thinking contact,” Watson said. “I was thinking they would walk me, but was hoping they would give me a pitch to hit.”
Wyandotte, which remained alive with an 8-2 win over Fairland in an elimination game earlier in the day, had taken a 4-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning on a dramatic two-run homer by Kirsten Leppla.
Freshman Maycee North led off the bottom of the seventh with a single. Adrienne Herrera flied out to right, then Jacey Knight drilled a single to right-center field that drove in North.
Kourtney Reading walked on four straight balls, then Watson drove the first pitch from Jesse Stone up the middle for the tying and winning runs.
“I told her ‘we have good sticks behind you - you have to rely on them,'” Myers said. “She did a great job with two outs earlier. They were kinda pitching around her and she didn't just swing at anything. She took the walk. I told her if they made a mistake, we were going to make them pay for it, but we weren't going to go out and swing at a bad pitch.
“She did what she was supposed to do. The catcher set up outside and she (Stone) just didn't hit her spot. Mandy made her pay for it.”
The win sends the Lady Tigers to the state tournament for the first time since 1998, when they reached the semifinals.
Ironically, this is the 15th anniversary of CHS winning the Class 2A state championship in 1993. They were runners-up in 1994.
Commerce should learn Monday the particulars about the state tournament from the OSSAA.
“We have been hitting so well up and down the lineup, but this wasn't one of those days,” said Myers, who is making his first trip to the state tournament. He was junior high coach at Picher-Cardin when the Lady Gorillas were enjoying their success earlier in the decade.
“We had opportunities to get a few more runs in but didn't do it,” Myers said. “We thought it was going to come back and bite us. It was just a good no-quit effort. We're excited about going to the state tournament.”
“We had them on the ropes,” Wyandotte coach John Leppla said. “Good players and good teams do that - they come through when it's time.”
Commerce jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, then picked up a second run in the second.
The Lady Tigers coasted behind pitcher Alysia Leonard until the sixth, when a defensive meltdown - errors on three consecutive plays - allowed Wyandotte to tie the game at 2-2.
Felicia Stone doubled with one out, then Kristen Leppla delivered her bomb, which went over the fence in left-center field.
“I think in years past, that would have been the time when we gave up,” Myers said.
Knight had two singles for the Lady Tigers. North and Herrera each had a double while Reading, Leonard and Watson chipped in with singles.
“We had them and just needed three outs, but just couldn't get it done,” John Leppla said. “They came up and put the bat on the ball. They did what they had to do. They did a great job there in the last inning.”
Kirsten Leppla led the Lady Bear attack with her homer and two singles.
Dez Edmund and Felicia Stone each had a single.
Wyandotte 8, Fairland 2
The Lady Bears had led only 2-0 until the fifth, when they erupted for six runs.
Fairland didn't break through until the sixth, when it got both of its runs.
The Lady Owls had bumped off Mounds 8-7 in the first round Thursday, then was sent to the losers' bracket when it lost 11-0 to Commerce in the winners' bracket final.
Wyandotte sent 10 batters to the plate in the sixth, taking advantage of four errors by the Lady Owls.
The big hits in the inning for the Lady Bears were two-run singles by Jesse Stone and Kristen Enyart. Kirsten Leppla also drove in a run with a double.
Jessica Blalock and Courtney Summers had RBI singles for Fairland in the sixth.
Jesse Stone had a double and single while Enyart collected two singles for the Lady Bears. Kirsten Leppla doubled and Jennifer McCloud, Felicia Stone and Jordan White singled.
Fairland collected six singles. Summers had two hits while Kayla Kowal, Summers, Suezann Pascoe and Katie Hutchinson added one each.