El Reno sweeps 5A-2 regional to punch ticket to Elite Eight
While it took a pair of nail-biting victories, El Reno High School's softball team is headed back to the Class 5A State Softball Championships for the second time in four seasons.
Playing the first-ever postseason games on its new field at Adams Park North, El Reno rallied from a 10-3 deficit to defeat Noble 21-11 in five innings to win the 2019 Class 5A, Region 2 Championships.
“It feels amazing. We have not won a regional since my freshman year or been to state. Now as a senior it's so great to win a regional at home with our home crowd behind us. They gave us so much energy and hype the entire game,” said Taryn Wahweah, one of three current seniors to play on the 2016 state squad.
El Reno, now 22-12 on the year, scored 10 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to enact the run-rule after getting off to a sluggish start. Noble scored six runs in the first inning and four more in the third to lead 10-3.
The Indians came back with an eight-run third inning to take an 11-10 lead and then used some salty defense to keep the score close on a day in which the wind made it a hitters game.
El Reno threw one Bears runner out at the plate in the fourth inning, got a ground ball out at third and one pop-up in foul territory with Noble runners in scoring position.
Noble scored one run in the fourth and fifth innings combined despite logging two doubles and five hits total.
Tied at 11-all going into the bottom of the fifth, El Reno exploded with the double-digit run total and went through three Noble pitchers en route to a seven-hit inning. Raelyn Kouba had a single and a double, followed by one-baggers from Chenoa White, Kira Taber, Ashlee Houston and Krystiana Guzman.
El Reno sent 13 batters to the plate in the fifth inning, the final was Houston who slapped a walk-off single into left field to score Kouba for the 10-run lead. It was Houston's second hit in the fifth.
“I knew when we were down 6-0 that we could come back because our bats have been working good lately. Then they got a few more runs but I never doubted. We just kept the bats going and started chipping away at them until we got the outcome we wanted,” said Houston, who was also on the last state team.
El Reno had 17 hits in the game as Taber made up for a few defensive miscues with a 3-for-4 effort which included a solo home run in the first inning and two doubles off the wall in left field. The freshman scored three times.
“It was really good to come back and help my team offensively when I could not defensively. I was very aggressive at the plate and ready to go. I wanted to get this win for the team and I wanted to go to state for our town and everyone.
“It's exciting and I'm ready to go to state. I had to make up for some goofs on defense and thank Jesus I did,” said Taber.
Houston was 4-of-5 with a double, while White went 3-for-3 with a two-bagger. Both scored three runs each. Kouba's winning run was her third of the game after logging a pair of doubles and four base hits.
Bailey Brothers and C.C. Medders added a single each, while senior Kenzi Mutzig scored a run and drove in three more.
“This feels really good and I knew our team was ready. I think things could have gone differently with our defense but we found a way to win and that is all that matters,” said Mutzig.
Freshman pitcher Miklyn Lumpmouth got the win after allowing 11 runs off 16 hits over five innings. She struck out one with no walks.
El Reno 12, Noble 11
White bobbled a hard-hit grounder to third and the freshman then made a diving tag on the tying base runner for the final out as El Reno earned its second win on the opening day of the regional.
The Indians had 14 hits in this see-saw battle with the Bears as Houston went 3-for-4 with a double. White aided the effort with a double, two singles and four runs scored, while Wahweah added three base hits.
Brothers belted out two doubles which led to a score and five runs batted in. Mutzig doubled along with singles from Medders and Guzman.
Lumpmouth threw seven innings for the win with a line of 14 hits, 11 runs, two walks and two strikeouts.
El Reno 12, Western Heights 0
El Reno head coach Davee Deaton purposely started sending base runners early to allow free outs for a Jets team which allowed 10 runs in the first inning.
Eight of those runs came before logging the first out against El Reno and all 10 after just one away.
The Indians scored two runs in the second inning before the game was called after three frames on the run-rule.
El Reno logged six hits and drew six free bases. Wahweah had two singles, followed by hits from Taber, Guzman and White and a double by Kouba.
White was credited with the win from the circle after throwing a two-hit shutout with a walk and a pair of strikeouts.