Lone Grove softball looks to take care of business, return to 4A State Tournament

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Lady Horns celebrate at home earlier this season. Lone Grove looks to do more of the same when it hosts Ada at noon Thursday to open play in a Class 4A Regional.

Tradition isn’t created overnight.

It takes hard work and dedication, and most importantly, the ability to continue on that path year in and year out. The Lone Grove High School softball team will be the first to tell you that, especially since the Lady Horns know anything less than hosting a regional is not up to their standards.

“We play in one of the tougher districts in our class and to be able to win our district and host is a big deal, and a goal,” said Lone Grove head coach Dennis Furr. “I feel like it’s just a tradition here that you’re expected to be in a position to host a regional. We’ve had to work hard and play well to get there, but it’s kind of what we expected to do when the season started.”

However, it wasn’t easy for the Lady Horns to reach their goal. They faced obstacles that easily could have sidetracked many teams, but not this group.

Lone Grove persevered and it’s safe to say the squad is peaking at the perfect time. The Lady Horns are on an 18-game winning streak and haven’t lost since Aug. 28.

“We’re playing really good softball right now,” Furr said. “I feel like if we just go compete and play the way we’re capable of playing, we’re going to be in good shape. That’s going to be the same this weekend. We feel like it’s us against ourselves. If we play the way we can play, we’re going to win. Hopefully we’re able to do that and we don’t really have to worry about what the other team is doing. Just take care of our business.”

Lone Grove looks to do that by winning at least three games in two days. The Lady Horns begin the journey with a matchup against Ada at noon Thursday.

Lone Grove's Logan Ketchum takes a lead off third base Tuesday against Comanche. Ketchum and the Lady Horns look to return to the Class 4A State Tournament when they host a regional this week.

Only time will tell what happens, but it’ll be the final few home games for Lexi Henderson, Logan Ketchum, Taylor Mason, Malea McMurtrey, NayNay Turner and Chloe Yeatts.

“I’ve played softball with them forever, every single one of them,” Ketchum said. “I’m glad we get to play here as seniors together and lead this team to hopefully a state championship.”

To do that, Lone Grove will need to get past Ada and most likely No. 2-seed Chickasha. That potential matchup would also have an interesting subplot as Furr used to share the same dugout with the Lady Chicks’ head coach.

“Lauren (Whatley) is a great girl, she’s a hard worker,” Furr said. “She was a great assistant for me, and she was a great player. She has knowledge of the game. I’m excited for her to be doing as well as she’s doing, but when it comes to getting on the field, we’ll treat her like anybody else. We’ll go out there and try to score as many as we can and hold them to as little runs as we can.”

The Lady Horns have shown they can do both, but as they say, “Defense wins championships.” That all starts with who’s in the circle and Lone Grove’s Emma Wilson has improved from the first game of the season to now.

“Early in the year, I was worried when I put her out there, if she was going to throw strikes and how it was going to go,” Furr said. “Now I expect her to go out there and be dominant, throw strikes and put the ball in play. … We expect that out of her every time. The growth has been tremendous.”

Even Wilson’s teammates know that she’s matured into a talented ace.

“I think Emma is a completely different pitcher,” Ketchum said. “Her mindset is completely different. We’re just really proud of her and everything that she’s accomplished.”