Oct. 16—OKLAHOMA CITY — The opportunities were there for Verdigris softball, but Riley Grant was just too good.
The Lady Cardinals had no answer for the University of Tulsa commit, who threw her way out of every tricky situation while leading Plainview to a 1-0 victory in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Thursday on Field 4 of the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City. Grant struck out 10 batters on 129 pitches through seven innings, allowing five walks and two hits.
The Lady Indians (27-9) advanced to Friday's semifinals against Lone Grove, losing 8-0.
"She's pretty good, and she was really good today," Verdigris coach Brian Keith said. "We had some pitches to hit and didn't take care of them, and our short game was not very good today. We made some mistakes early defensively, and it cost us. Like I said (earlier this week), we had to be good today, and it's just unfortunate that we weren't very good today."
The Lady Cardinals (33-5) weren't without their chances. They stranded eight runners in all, four of which reached as far as second or third base.
Of course, Grant had a lot to do with that.
Grayce Taylor gave Verdigris its best opportunity to score when she stole second and third in the fourth inning, but Grant retired the side with her seventh strikeout before the sophomore could take advantage of her position.
Later in the seventh, the Lady Cardinals had a chance to at least tie the game with their best hitter Daeya Moses at the plate and two runners on after Presley Tipton and Emma West reached via an error and a walk, respectively, but it wasn't to be. Moses grounded out to the second baseman, bringing an end to the senior's high school career.
"Daeya is our best player, and she was there for us all year long," Keith said. "We probably wouldn't be in the position we're in right now without her. She was really good for us."
Evie Lemery, Verdigris' freshman ace pitcher, performed well under pressure in the circle despite being inexperienced on such a big stage.
She tossed two strikeouts while surrendering four hits and two walks on 77 pitches in a complete-game effort. Plainview's only run came in the second inning on an RBI single from Samara Morgan, scoring Brooklyn Charnock.
The Lady Indians reached second base only once after that.
"That was the only time they really threatened us," Keith said. "Our pitcher gave us a chance; she pitched her butt off. We just couldn't get anything going offensively. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes. She didn't have experience with an atmosphere like this, but it didn't faze her. She was really good today. Her spot efficiency was good, and this was one of the better games she's thrown. She's thrown some good ones, but she was spot on today.
"She gave us a chance, but we just didn't do enough offensively and defensively for her."
Although the Lady Cardinals didn't reach their ultimate goal of winning a championship, the senior class can graduate knowing they helped the program reach its first state tournament in three years after going an undefeated 12-0 through District 4A-6.
With Lemery returning to the circle, Verdigris could very well find itself in a similar position next season and beyond.
"We had a great year and had a lot of wins, but that's not our ultimate goal," Keith said. "The ultimate goal is to be on top, and I thought we were good enough, but you have to do the little things right, and we just didn't execute really good today. You have to in these situations like we had today.
"The biggest thing in this game is pitching, and we've got (Lemery) for another three years. But Daeya and Bailey (Cravens), that 1-2 is going to be hard to replace. They were my top-two hitters all year long."