LONE GROVE — By normal teams standards, last season was a dream year for the Lone Grove Lady Horns softball team.

LONE GROVE — By normal teams standards, last season was a dream year for the Lone Grove Lady Horns softball team.

They managed to win their 13th regional championship in program history, and first since 2014. They also managed to claim the programs first state runner-up finish since 2001. 

However, as the page turns towards the 2018 fast pitch season, this current squad made of returning starters along with hungry new faces is looking to change another number in the Lady Horns history.

One. As in one state title won by the Lady Horns fast pitch program, with it coming back in 2004.

“It’s a new year and a new group every year,” Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller said. “There’s challenges every season, and we just need to be prepared for them. We’ve been blessed with a lot of talent and depth here at Lone Grove. Our thing is we constantly try and get these girls prepared to be ready to go when we need them.”

Despite losing four starters from last season, and eight total seniors overall, the Lady Horns are more than primed to better their record from last season of 30-6.

“You always lead on your seniors for leadership and confidence,” Miller said. “It’s always a process each year seeing them figure out how to lead and how to step up. Part of the process is these girls learning how to play together, and these girls know how to do that.” 

Among the returning players will be seniors Maci McMurtrey, Shelby Stevenson, Taylor McIntyre, and Moriah Moiser. 

Last season Guthrie was named as the All-Ardmoreite Newcomer of the Year, as she scorched the competition on the mound with a 1.11 ERA, and a 25-4 overall record.

She allowed just 26 earned runs all season with 71 hits, 34 total base on balls, while striking out 266 batters.

At the plate Guthrie was just as solid as she totaled a .337 average with a .366 on base percentage. She finished with 32 hits for the year with 19 RBI.

“The competitor attitude this team has and the fight they have, has me very excited for this season,” Guthrie said. “Getting to win two games at state was something we got a lot from. But we learned so much from losing in the state finals. We’ve worked harder than I’ve ever seen us work before, because we know we’re going to have to fight to get back there. Our attitude has always been one pitch and one play at a time. Every play counts and that’s how we approach the game.” 

Stevenson was one of two players to break the school record at Lone Grove for home runs in a season along with now University of Oklahoma player Sami Skelly.

Stevenson was a member of the All-Ardmoreite softball team as she totaled a .350 average with a .415 on base percentage. She also hit nine home runs with 35 hits and 40 RBI.

Mcmurtry, who is also known as “Chop” on the Lady Horns, was also a member of the All-Ardmoreite softball team last season.

She finished her junior season with a .415 average along with a .44 on base percentage. She had 44 hits for the year with 29 RBI and 47 runs scored.

“We did good last year,” McMurtrey said. “But we graduated a lot of players, so this year we’re going to have to work hard for what we want. We’re going to push our teammates, but we’re going to be there to pick them up when they need us. It’s business as usual for us when it comes to the new playoff format. You win each game and the rest follows.” 

McIntyre will look to turn in a strong senior season as she returned from a wrist injury last year to win five games pitching, while Mosier will be a solid position player in the outfield and infield.

Also returning this season will be catcher Logan Graves, along with Abbi Atkinson, along with sophomores Noa Dodson and Emily Burns. 

Lone Grove will look to repeat as district champions this season, as well as defend its Lake Country Conference tournament title from last year.

The Lady Horns will have to navigate their way through the competitive district 4A-3 which consists of Ada, Byng, Madill, Pauls Valley, Plainview and Sulphur.

In addition, this season will offer up more competition as only the top four teams in the district will make the playoffs and go straight to the regional tournament, with the district champion hosting.

“Our goal is always to make the state tournament and have a chance to compete for a state title,” Miller said. “In district play you have to play every inning and be ready to play everyday. We’re just going to keep our focus on the here and now, and the rest will take care of itself.”