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Lady Horns take down Hilldale to return to state title game

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

OKLAHOMA CITY — Every squad in Oklahoma begins the season with the hope of advancing to the state championship. Some reach that goal, while others fall short in heartbreaking fashion.

The Lone Grove High School softball team knows both sides of that story and made sure to keep its season alive Friday with a 6-0 shutout of Hilldale.

The Lady Horns advance to the 4A State Championship at noon Saturday against Tuttle, which moved on with a 9-5 win over Tecumseh.

“I’m super excited,” said Lone Grove’s Chloe Yeatts. “We had a feeling since the beginning of the year, if we keep fighting and keep playing like we can, we’re going to make it. And we made it. It’s time to finish some unfinished business.”

Yeatts wasn’t on the team the last time the Lady Horns played in the state championship game in 2017, but she helped make sure six Lone Grove seniors have a chance to write a storybook ending to their high school careers.

The junior catcher stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning with a runner on and nobody out. Neither team had scored yet, but she came through with an RBI single to give the Lady Horns a 1-0 lead they would never surrender.

“The intensity came up with Lexi Meadows getting on base,” Yeatts said. “Whenever intensity comes up, there’s no stopping our team. We all get excited and we put so much pressure on the defense. It’s unreal. It’s the excitement that really brought us up right there.”

The intensity didn’t stop there though, as Lone Grove made sure to put the game out of reach in the seventh.

The Lady Horns capitalized on a number of Hilldale errors and also sent all nine batters to the plate. Logan Ketchum’s two-run triple was the highlight of the frame as Lone Grove clinched another spot in the title game.

“As a coach, to even have a chance to go to the state tournament is always a goal and it’s exciting,” said Lady Horns head coach Jimmy Miller. “To be able to play in the state championship game two times out of the last four years — I hadn’t even really thought about it until you said it. That’s awesome. It’s a dream to have a chance to go win it. That’s what we’re going to try to do (Saturday).”

And it’ll likely be with Emmy Guthrie in the circle after the senior struck out 10 and walked three in a complete-game effort.

“Emmy is a great pitcher,” Yeatts said. “She came out here and she did her job and we did our job for her. We had to get as many runs as possible. She helps us out, so we got to have her back and help her out.”