DURANT — Success never graduates, and neither does tradition.

DURANT — Success never graduates, and neither does tradition.

When it comes to the Lone Grove Lady Horns softball team the two terms have gone hand in hand for many years.

Fresh off an appearance in the Class 4A state semifinals this past season though, the Lady Horns have hit the ground running in preparation for a third straight trip to the state tournament. 

“This is a special group of girls and it’s a blast getting to coach them,” Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller said. “Getting to see them progress and continue to get better is just a lot of fun for us. Summer is all about finding where the pieces of the puzzle fit so we can work towards going after a state title again next season.”

Last season, the Lady Horns defended their LCC Conference Championship, District Championship and Regional Championship, while going 27-6 on the season. 

The team was also lucky enough to have two All-State players in Maci McMurtrey and Shelby Stevenson.

While Lone Grove graduated some talented players from their 2019 senior class, they have more than enough firepower returning for next season.

Among those players coming back will be two-time All-Ardmoreite Softball Pitcher of the Year Emmy Guthrie, who has registered at least one win in the state tournament each of her first two years playing varsity softball.

Guthrie last season went 18-4 on the mound with a 1.46 ERA while allowing just 30 earned runs for the season with 40 walks, while striking out 207 batters.

At the plate, the now junior standout went for 23 RBI’s with a .315 average and a .427 on base percentage. 

Also coming back will be sophomores Malea McMurtrey and Logan Ketchum.

The younger of the McMurtrey sisters finished her freshman season with a .412 average along with a .417 on base percentage to go with 12 RBI’s and 27 runs scored.

Ketchum was solid on the mound as well as the plate, where she totaled a .379 average with a .434 on base percentage. She finished with 18 RBI’s for the season which included nine doubles, three triples and 15 runs scored. 

“It’s a huge benefit having players who have been to the state tournament, and are comfortable being in those big game situations,” Miller said. “I’m hoping these girls that have never been there will learn from these upperclassmen, so we can continue building on the success from these last few seasons.”

This summer will bring a slight change though, as the OSSAA is implementing its first ever mandatory “Dead Period” which will occur during the fourth of July week for nine days.

While this might have some hinderance on most teams summer plans, this isn’t the case for the Lady Horns.

“We’ve always had a period of time where we took some days off in the summer,” Miller said. “All that changed is when we do it this year. Instead of doing it in June, we do it in July, so not a whole lot is different for me or the girls.”