OKLAHOMA CITY — A five-year span encompassed 317 games, Sulphur coach Heath Gilbert said, including fast-pitch, summer league and slow-pitch contests in that timeframe.
Reilly Williams and Carly Heitland were eighth graders when Gilbert arrived at the school.
When they ascended to high school, Gilbert filled a coaching vacancy there.
Remington Park loomed as the backdrop for the final contest.
Chandler scored the first seven runs, and a running catch by Lady Lions’ second baseman Kelsie Cowden denied Sulphur its best rally bid in a 7-2 loss Tuesday on Field 3 at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex.
“You don’t realize how many games you can play together by the time you’re done,” Gilbert said. “I love all of them. That last year, it’s tough to see kids go. Coaches, we have players graduate every year and it’s tough because you get attached to people.”
Sulphur (22-8) assembled its best rally bid in the sixth, when Payton Massey and Williams led off with singles. Both advanced 90 feet on Williams’ second hit. Savannah Ashford drove them in with a two-run single.
Bekkah Turner lined out softly and Payton Szalaj hit a pop-up. Bivens swung at the first pitch. Cowden denied Bivens a bloop single by making a running catch just before crossing into foul territory down the right-field line.
In the Class 5A No. 9 Lady Bulldogs’ final opportunity, Ashlie Hedemann led off the seventh inning with a walk. Two hitters followed with pop-ups to outfielders.
Massey grounded out to shortstop to end it.
“It’s a lot of games,” Williams said. “You definitely get a bond with all your girls and your coaches, too. I’m proud of the girls.
“It’s going to be tough, but that’s life: Move on.”
Chandler’s offense helped the Lady Lions advance to the semifinal, where they …
The Lady Lions started with five flyouts to Sulphur outfielders, which influenced where they played, Gilbert said. In the top of the second inning, a two-out double by Baleigh Herring drove in the first run.
Chandler’s lead-off hitter, Paige Weber, hit a two-run home run a frame later.
Of the Lady Lions’ 13 hits against Sulphur, the other 11 were singles — including the final nine. Line drives — and one grounder — frequently reached the outfield through the 4-3 gap between second baseman Bekkah Turner and first baseman Taylor McAlister.
In the fourth frame, a bloop single drove in the fourth run — and the first of four in the inning.
Sulphur struggled to reciprocate offensively, hitting several pop-ups that infrequently troubled Chandler’s defenders.
Williams and Heitland move on. While the venue changed from The Ball Fields at Firelake to ASA Hall of Fame Complex, the two seniors made three state tournaments in softball.
“It’s amazing, honestly,” Williams said. “We never expected anything. Maybe in our freshman year we expected to be here, but the last two years, we never expected to be here at all. No one thought we could do it. We kind of just went out and played our game.”