OKLAHOMA CITY — Abbi Johnson kept alive Carl Albert’s dream of capturing its second state title in three seasons Thursday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Johnson’s bases-loaded bloop single over a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the eighth inning gave the Titans a 3-2 extra-innings win over a gutty Piedmont team in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state tournament.
The loss ended Piedmont’s season at 26-15 overall. Carl Albert advanced to the semifinals.
“We’ve got to hold our heads high. Am I sad and disappointed? Yeah, you bet,” Piedmont head coach Rick Scott said. “But in some ways I’m not, because our girls overachieved and fought hard. I’m so proud of the guts they exhibited this year.”
Johnson’s bloop hit was setup by another softly hit ball that fell just out of Piedmont shortstop Abby Detar’s glove to open the frame. Audrie LaValley followed with a hard-hit ball that went under the glove of second baseman Ashlyn Ratliff and rolled all the way to the wall to put runners on second and third.
“We just didn’t get the breaks we needed today,” Scott said.
Carl Albert rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of runs in the sixth inning off Piedmont pitcher Kassidy Scott. Scott had coasted until the sixth when the top of Carl Albert’s order came to bat against her for the third time.
“(Scott) is really good, obviously. We knew we had to get something off her that inning,” Carl Albert head coach Colin White said. “We got it going and got two out of it. It was just a matter of getting some energy and emotion.”
After Ratliff robbed Jolie Fish of a leadoff hit with a leaping catch, Lyric Cabral followed with a single to left. Sophomore and University of Oklahoma commit Audrie LaValley was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out.
Bailey Strecker followed by lacing a two-RBI double off the wall in left, with a little help from LaValley’s baserunning, who ran through White’s stop sign at third base.
“I’m glad she ran through it,” White said. “Luckily the ball kicked off the fence far enough and Audrie’s instincts took over. That’s better than me directing traffic.”
The runs ended a 22 1/3 inning scoreless streak put up by Scott that dated back to the regular season.
An underdog to the top-seeded Titans, Piedmont struck first in the fourth inning on an RBI-double from third baseman Jourdan Edwards. Abby Detar followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Lady Wildcats a 2-0 lead. But the Wildcats missed an opportunity to widen the lead in the fifth and to regain the lead in the seventh.
“We had opportunities to win the game and didn’t,” Scott said. “We left too many runners on base again. If we’d have gotten the two runs home in the fifth it would’ve been over.”
In Piedmont’s half of the seventh, Tatum Honer led off with a single and Scott, who’d been walked three times intentionally before, singled to right. The runners advanced as far as second and third, but were stranded there by Carl Albert starter Ariel Denney.
“She did a great job,” White said of Denney.