Aaliyah Ahmed is one of several Owasso softball seniors that will get one last shot at the state tournament this week.
The Rams catcher and her teammates swept through regional play last week (see story on page 16) and punched their ticket to the Class 6A tournament, which begins Thursday at the Ballfields at Firelake in Shawnee. Owasso (24-13) will make its fourth consecutive trip to state but Ahmed hopes this is the time the Rams put a halt to five straight first-round losses.
“We want it so bad…so bad,” Ahmed said. “This year we’ve struggled quite a bit but we’ve been coming back. I just have a good feeling about this year.”
Owasso learned Monday it will face Westmoore (30-8) in the first round for the second consecutive season. The Rams and Jaguars square off at 6:30 p.m., the final first round game on Thursday. In last year’s first round game, Owasso grabbed an early three-run lead but fell to Westmoore, 5-3.
The Rams did claim a 6-3 win over the Jaguars on Aug. 24 during their trip to Moore.
Ahmed is one of 13 seniors on the roster, several of whom already have state experience under their belt. Shortstop Paige Knight will make her fourth trip.
“It does take a lot of the nerves away,” Knight said of having already played in the state tournament. “The young ones I try to tell them to calm down. It’s not as big as it seems. It’s just a game. It’s just like a home game to me.”
Owasso cruised past Muskogee and Stillwater twice by a combined score of 26-0 to claim its regional crown. Westmoore bounced back from a first-round loss to Edmond North with three straight wins including two consecutive over the Huskies in the regional final.
Should the Rams win their first game, they would face either top-seed Broken Arrow (37-2) or Union (24-13) at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. Other first-round pairings include Sand Springs (23-12) against Moore (25-10) and Edmond Memorial against Edmond Deer Creek (26-9). The championship game is slated for 5 p.m. Saturday.
Knight, who moved up to the leadoff spot during regionals, led a balanced offensive lineup with a .484 batting average coming into the postseason. Six Rams regulars batted .355 or higher during the regular season.
Juniors Lily Shaw and Avery Tallman will be the first two called upon in the circle. Shaw improved to 9-3 on the season as she was credited with the win in all three regional games while Tallman finished up two of those contests.
Shaw, who had an RBI double in last year’s first-round loss to Westmoore, has inkling this year the Rams can change their
recent misfortunes at state.
“It just feels different,” Shaw said. “The vibe is different. We’re just itching to go.”
Owasso has a 3-4 record against the 6A field this season. Along with aforementioned win over Westmoore, the Rams defeated Edmond Deer Creek in a neutral site tournament and split their two-game series with district foe Sand Springs. Broken Arrow, Moore and Union defeated Owasso in the regular season.
Collinsville set to face district rival: The Cardinals punched their ticket to the 5A state tournament by winning their home regional last week (see story on page 16). For its efforts, Collinsville (25-7) will take District 5A-3 foe Pryor (25-10) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round at Shawnee for the second consecutive year.
The Cardinals and Tigers met in last year’s quarterfinal round when OU bound Olivia Rains led Pryor to a 5-0 win with her 14-strikeout performance. Collinsville and Pryor split the two regular season meetings this this season with both teams winning at home.
Should Collinsville win, it would face either top-seed Carl Albert (27-5) or El Reno (22-12) at 11 a.m. Friday in a semifinal contest. The remaining first round matchups include Tahlequah (22-17) against Durant (24-13) and Woodward (26-7) against Piedmont (23-7). The state title game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Collinsville is making its seventh trip to state in the last eight years and are searching for the program’s first championship since 2015.
With all but one starter back from last year’s state tournament team, senior pitching ace Elizabeth Aman said Collinsville is better positioned to bring a title back this time around.
“I feel like this year we know going in we can win it,” said Aman, who opposed Rains in last year’s state tournament game. “Last year it felt like we were just trying not to lose.”
Collinsville’s two games against Pryor were the only two it played against teams in this year’s 5A state tournament. Mike Henry’s squad did, however, face half of the 6A state tournament teams during the regular season, but suffered losses to Edmond Deer Creek, Edmond Memorial, Sand Springs and Westmoore.