FAIRLAND — A big roster means there’s been plenty of competition at all nine defensive positions, Fairland softball coach Chad Ross said.

The Lady Owls headed into the 2018 season with 20 players on the roster.

“We’ve had competition at just about every spot,” Ross said. “That’s something we haven’t had in a while. That means we’ve worked harder and I think it makes us better.”

The Lady Owls split their first two games, falling to 3A Verdigris 10-0 then rolled 19-0 over Catoosa.

“They have a good program,” Ross said of the Lady Cardinals, who have won 142 games over the past four seasons.

“It was a good one to get a gauge with,” Ross said. “You can’t make mistakes against teams like that. If we were mistake-free, its like 4-0, but they beat us 10-0 with our mistakes.”

The Lady Owls went 30-7 a year ago. They went into the post season ranked 8th in Class 2A, then breezed to a district title with a sweep of Quapaw only to fall 6-4 to ninth-ranked Howe in the regional final.

They beat Lucky 7 rival Wyandotte 10-3 in the first round and lost to Howe 12-1.

However, Fairland remained alive with an 8-5 upset of Howe then eliminated Wyandotte 10-5 to set up the title game rematch against Howe.

For the first time, Class 2A will play a district schedule.

The Lady Owls have been assigned to District 2A-8 with Wyandotte, Commerce, Quapaw, Hulbert, Chouteau, Colcord and Ketchum.

The Lady Owls will hang their hat on defense, but Ross thinks they will be able to score some runs, too.

“Defense is where we are going to win games,” he said. “We don’t have the dominant pitching that we had with Nikki (Nikki Dingle, a fast-pitch all-stater who signed with NEO), but we have three girls that can throw strikes. We will pitch by committee.”

Senior Lily Triplett and juniors Jordan Gates and Kyndall Davis are all in the picture to succeed Dingle in the circle.

Davis started at shortstop a year ago.

“With all the other girls, we can mix and match a bunch,” Davis said. “They can play just about anywhere. I feel we have a strong lineup. We hit the ball well all summer.

“As long as we stay within ourselves and keep our approach, I think we will be all right. I think we can score some runs.

The Fairland infield includes freshman Grace Goins and senior Jenna Morgan at first base, senior Lilly Triplett and junior Makayla Jackson at second, Davis and sophomore Alexis McGranahan at shortstop and sophomore Kaylee Wilson and freshman Makynzi Jones at third.

Senior Peyton Long provides depth on the infield

“We have 15 of 20 girls who could see time on the infield,” Ross said. “It’s an unusual deal because usually there are a lot more outfielders.”

McGranahan, sophomore Madison Stotts, freshman Scout Mayfield, freshman Alexis Boyd, freshman Chloe Brown, senior Brittany Reynolds, sophomore Ryleigh Homan and freshman Mollie Maxson are in the picture in the outfield.

Morgan Chaney, Jordan Gates and Goins will fill in behind the plate while all-conference catcher Savannah Hutchison recovers from a torn ACL.

“We hope to have her back by the first week or so of September. She is a tough one to lose,” Ross said.