Daylynn Black didn’t forget that Wilson has one more tournament to play before the state Class 3A slowpitch tournament.

Daylynn Black didn’t forget that Wilson has one more tournament to play before the state Class 3A slowpitch tournament.

But “when we make it to state” came out her mouth more than “if we make it to state.” That’s how confident she and the defending state champion Eagles are.

“We want it bad and we’ll play hard to get there,” Black said.

Third-ranked Wilson (16-4) has an edge in hosting today’s 3A regional tournament. The Eagles will face Rush Springs in the first game at 1 p.m., followed by Healdton vs. Rock Creek at 3:30 p.m. Two teams from each regional will advance to state.

Yet coach Scott Hartman finds the title defense harder than last year’s run to Wilson’s fourth state title.

“It’s harder because everyone wants to knock you off,” he said. “We’re not the most athletic team, and everybody’s bringing their best game.”

Hartman credits the senior leadership of Malorie Shepard, Bree Labeth, Paige Reed and Brittany Shepard for helping guide the Eagles back to the verge of another ticket to Oklahoma City. They make up the middle four of the Eagles’ batting order.

Add juniors Rachel Cain and Black, and the Eagles have six of the first seven in the lineup back from last year’s championship team, the fourth in Wilson history. Black leads the team in batting average at .546 as of two weeks ago, and Shepard, the All-Ardmoreite Player of the Year last spring, has six home runs to her credit.

“That’s all we do. We hit every day,” Shepard said.

It’s paid off. Wilson has scored in double digits 11 times, including its last two outings when it beat Achille 13-1 and 10-0 in their district series.

The Eagles’ season high came in a 29-17 win over Turner, coached by Hartman’s brother Kelly, on April 13.

Against Healdton, it hasn’t always been a runaway deal. Wilson has won all three meetings this season, 10-2, 2-1 and 13-9.

Healdton coach David Bingman’s mind isn’t yet on his western Carter County rival.

“We’re just concentrating on the first game,” he said. “If we do get the opportunity to play Wilson, I know it would be a good game. We both play pretty good defense. It just depends on how the ball is being hit.”

Tenth-ranked Healdton (17-10) is seeking a slowpitch state championship to go with its fastpitch title from the fall. The Bulldogs, too, have spring state tourney experience.

“We’ve been to state many times in slowpitch,” Bingman said. “We’ve never won one. I’m ready to go up and win one for a change instead of winning one or two and going home.”

Scott Hartman wouldn’t mind a fourth meeting with the Bulldogs.

“They know our kids, and we know their kids,” he said.

I.C. Murrell