No. 1 Broncos host No. 19 Norman North tonight before traveling to Tulsa for the Jenks Festival tomorrow
Mustang’s rich softball tradition has once again been on full display this spring.
The top-ranked Broncos rolled to a 9-1 record through the first month of the 2023 season and are looking to recapture the magic from 2021, when the program clinched its first-ever slow pitch state title.
Lacy Darity’s squad nearly carried the crown for two straight years but fell to Choctaw in the state semifinals last season. Both teams watched Southmoore lift the Class 6A championship trophy.
Last Monday however, it was a different story.
Down 35-30 in the bottom of the seventh inning against the reigning state champion Sabercats, Nyli Brown (So.) sparked a rally with a one-out solo home run to center field.
Reese Poage (Fr.) and Amelia Mason (So.) followed with back-to-back singles after the second out and before Madeline Rush (So.) stepped to the plate for the finishing touch.
Rush, who went 4-for-7 with two bombs and six RBI, blasted a three-run homer to center field to give Mustang a 38-35 win and a confidence boost going into the middle part of the campaign.
“The bottom of the lineup did a great job of getting hits and turning it over,” Darity said. “Then Madeline stepped up and hit the clutch walk off. That was huge and a big moment for her and the team.”
Both teams finished with 33 hits and combined for 25 longballs. The Broncos launched 15 out of the park, including Rush’s two, three each from Brown and Lexy Kierstead (Fr.), two apiece from Mason and Eden Anderson (Jr.), and solo shots from Mackenzie Sessions (Jr.), Emerson Pegram (Jr.), and Abbi Keele (Fr.).
Brown, Sessions, Mason, and Poage all finished with one double. Brown led the team with seven RBI. Pegram picked up the win from the circle, walking five batters with one strikeout.
“We have a lot of kids hitting the ball really well right now,” Darity said. “If you like offense they’re a lot of fun to watch.”
Darity is excited to continue developing the slow pitch side of the program. There are no seniors on this year’s squad, which offers an opportunity for juniors and underclassmen to step into new roles and grow as players.
“It’s an interesting dynamic not having any seniors,” she said. “We have a lot of new faces both to our roster and to slow pitch in general. We have a good mix, though, including four juniors that were a part of the semis last season. There are a lot of sophomores and freshmen too, and it’s their first experience with the game.”
Sessions, Pegram, Anderson, and Rylee Hannon have all stood out in different ways according to Darity, including Pegram in the circle. The team struggled with pitching consistency last year.
“Emerson has really stepped up and grabbed that role,” she said. “She grabbed the spot last year at regionals and really hasn’t looked back.
“Those four are the team captains. They’ve done a great job of taking on that role as well.”
Defense is the name of the game for Mustang at the moment. Darity says the Broncos have the lineup and now the pitching but need to take the next step in the field. Even in the win against Southmoore they committed six errors.
“That’s where we need to improve the most right now,” she said. “But with slow pitch you get a lot of opportunities to clean things up. The ball is being put in play almost every at bat and we’ve made quite a few errors where we shouldn’t.”
Darity says one of the big positives to the slow pitch season is simply have the players around the facilities and working out for an extra five months of the school year. Without the addition, the coaching staff wouldn’t be able to work with the squad until the summer.
“That’s big because it allows us to have some continuity and see the kids as much as possible,” she said. “We’re kind of unique where we don’t have all of the fast pitch players where some teams have all of their girls from the fall.
“But for the girls who are playing and aren’t in other sports or activities, it gives them the chance to get extra reps, especially defensively. Those reps are really important and carry over to the summer and fall. My first year here was the first time I coached this version of the game and I love it.”
The Broncos, who feature Class 6A wins over the Sabercats, Moore, and Guthrie, get the season back underway this week after a weekend slate cancelled by weather.
They host No. 19 Norman North today at 4:30 p.m. before traveling to Tulsa for the Jenks Festival tomorrow where they play a doubleheader against No. 3 Broken Arrow and the No. 5 Trojans.
“It’s an exciting team to coach and watch play,” Darity said. “The title in 2021 kind of solidified things for us and we want to keep that momentum rolling. It’s a different game than fast pitch, but there are a lot of similarities, and it can only help development.
“And like I said, if you like offense this is the team to watch.”