by Bradey King
As the Women’s College World Series championship round kicked off Monday night, the TC OKC tournament was wrapping up with only a few top teams left standing.
The 18u Texas Blaze NTX went 2-1-1 in pool play and won three straight in bracket play. The team spent all day at the ballpark Monday, yet they were still able to use whatever gas they had left in the tank to pull off a 7-5 comeback win against Northwest Premier (MO) in the Red River Bracket Championship.
“We were down 7-0 in a pool game yesterday and we fought back to tie. That showed a lot of character. I’ve never been more proud of a tie! Today we just played, had fun and stayed loose,” said head coach Bryan Ishcomer.
The teams were even at 1 after one full inning but the home team, Premier, seemed to have command over the game when they extended their lead to 5-1 at the end of the third inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Blaze was able to make a dent in Premier’s lead by scoring one run off of two singles and an error. However, it was in the fifth that they lit an offensive spark to make the comeback and force three pitching changes by Premier.
In that inning, the NTX squad seemed to hit every single gap on the field as they produced seven back-to-back singles to completely shift the momentum and take a 7-5 lead.
Jill Dixon was the catalyst for the Blaze lineup as she was a perfect 3-for-3 and also earned the game-tying RBI.
“I’m a fighter. I like to complete. I know that when it comes down to it I have to do my job up at the plate. Softball’s a fun sport so you just have to have fun while doing it and that’s what I was doing, having fun,” said Dixon.
The Blaze defense played their best ball in the later half of the game. They made big plays in innings five and six to keep Premier out of scoring position.
“I tried to slow down and spin the ball instead of trying to throw hard,” said pitcher Kylie Bowen about the adjustment she made after the Premier’s run in the fourth.
The bottom of seven was smooth sailing as the Blaze got a quick 3-up-3-down to secure the win and earn their TC OKC gold championship rings.
“Overall it was a great tournament. We enjoyed playing teams from different states and different parts of the country. We’re from North Texas and we typically play a lot of Texas teams even when we travel, so this was fun and refreshing to play teams from Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas,” added coach Ishcomer.
The 16u Red River champions was the Gametime Stars 2020 (OK), which did not lose a game in the entire tournament. Their peers in the organization, Gametime Stars 2021, won the 14A Red River title.