Lady Bulldogs set sights on district crown in 2017

By LARRY OWEN

Times Sports Editor

 

In 2016, the Okmulgee Lady Bulldog fastpitch softball team was really young, as 13 of the 21 players on the roster were either freshmen or sophomores.

Eight of last year's young players return this season, giving Coach Dunlap some experience on the softball field.

"Those are kind of the first group that's really 'our' group," said of the returning sophomores. "We've had them since they were sixth graders and I think the future's bright for them."

There are a total of eight newcomers to this year's squad.

Six of the eight newcomers this season will come from another Okmulgee County school that did not have enough players to field a fastpitch softball team in 2017.

"We are co-oping with Schulter Public Schools (in 2017)," Coach Dunlap said, about the six of the eight additions. "They had six young ladies that needed a place to play."

When it was determined that Schulter would not be fielding a fastpitch softball team in 2017, Coach Dunlap talked to the SHS administration about a possible co-op, meaning that the six players would have a place to play fastpitch softball in 2017.

"Talking to Superintendent (Allen) Callahan and Coach (Rick) Duncan, it was an easy transition for them to come over and play with us," the Okmulgee coach said, about adding the six Schulter players to his team. "They've already been practicing with us and we're just excited for what the future holds. They had a few young ladies that are going to help us immediately."

One of the returning sophomores is Nyah Robol. Robol was the starting pitcher for Coach Dunlap last year and did a subperb job in the circle in her high school rookie season. Robol will split time in the circle this year with newcomer Jewell Licht. Licht is one of the players from Schulter that will suit up for OHS this season and is an exceptional pitcher.

When Licht is in the circle, Robol will be utilized elsewhere on the field, wherever she is needed, as the sophomore can play at almost any position on the softball field. There will be times that Robol will roam the outfield, then there will be times that Robol will be asked to step behind the plate and do a little catching.

With the addition of Licht this season, it frees up last year's other pitching choice - junior Naudia Lane - to help out the team on the infield. Lane will spend most of her time playing at the shortstop position, but could also be asked to play at the 'hot corner' at third base.

The rest of the infield will consist of three returning 'rookies' - Madyson Houston, Molly Gardenhire, and Hailey Ummerteskee. Houston and Gardenhire will man the right side of the infield at first and second base, respectively, while Ummerteskee will get the starting nod at  third to begin the season.

Shawna Wilson, one of the Schulter additions, will get the start behind the plate and will share the catching duties with Robol.

Licht can also play behind the plate and can also man the 'hot corner' at third base if needed.

While it is pretty much set in stone which players will be forming the infield for Okmulgee in 2017, the outfield is not set, as Coach Dunlap will have many different players in which to choose from to put in the three outfield positions.

When she is not in the circle or behind the plate, Robol will more than likely get the starting nod in left field. Junior Disney Marris, who is a returning starter this year, will get the start in center field this season.

In right field, Coach Dunlap has an unlimited number of choices to play that position. Schulter additions Malaki Hedrick and Abbie Earhart will be competing with several Okmulgee players, including incoming freshmen Morgan Goddard and Mercedes Cosby, for playing time in right field.

Last week, the Lady Bulldogs competed in a pair of preseason scrimmages to get better prepared for the upcoming season. Last Thursday, the Okmulgee softballers traveled to Kiefer to battle the Lady Trojans, then went to the annual Okemah Scrimmage Festival last Friday and Saturday, facing some tough competition on both days.

This past Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs held one final preseason scrimmage at home against Bowlegs.

Okmulgee's 2017 fastpitch season kicked off on Thursday with opening-round action at the Dewar Invitational Fastpitch Softball Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs were scheduled to face the winner of Dewar and Wilson, who began the 3-day event, at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

After the Dewar Tournament, the Lady Bulldogs will open the home portion of their schedule this coming Monday against the Wagoner Lady Bulldogs in a doubleheader, beginning at 5 p.m. Monday's home opener will also be the opening games in district action.

The Okmulgee squad will be in District 4A-7, which will be a 6-team district that will also feature Berryhill, Inola, Catoosa, and Hilldale. Tulsa Webster was also slated to be part of 4A-7, but Tulsa Public Schools decided to cut out the softball programs from most of their school systems.

The Lady Bulldogs will host Berryhill in doubleheader action next Thursday and will face the other three teams in the 6-team district in home-and-home series. Okmulgee's other three home district games will be August 28 against Catoosa, September 12 against Hilldale, and September 18 against Inola. The three district road games for the Lady Bulldogs will take place August 29 at Catoosa, September 11 at Hilldale, and September 19 at Inola.

The Okmulgee squad will also compete in a total of six non-district games, four of which will take place at home. Four of those six non-district games will be against county opponents - Preston, Wilson, and Henryetta. The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Preston this coming Tuesday (August 15) and Henryetta September 5 and will host Wilson August 22 and Preston August 31. The games against Wilson and Henryetta came about as part of Schulter's schedule.

The final two non-district games will feature home games against McAlester September 14 and Bishop Kelley September 21.

Besides the Dewar Tournament this weekend, the Lady Bulldogs will also compete at the Prague Tournament August 24-26 and the Mounds Tournament September 8-10.

The Okmulgee squad will compete at the annual Kellyville Festival in Sapulpa next Friday and Saturday, as well as the Hall of Fame Shootout at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City September 16.

Due to the realignment of district play this season, Class 4A will have the same postseason format that baseball did this past Spring, where every team in their respective district will compete in a bi-district tournament. The Lady Bulldogs' district will square off against the third-eighth finishing teams of the 8-team district of 4A-8.

The bi-district tournaments are scheduled to take place September 28-30. The winner of each bi-district will advance to the regional tournament October 5-7 with the regional champions advancing to the Class 4A state tournament October 12-14 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

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Okmulgee Lady Bulldog Softball

Head Coach: David Dunlap

Assistant Coaches: Shane Bevan, Rick Duncan, Dewayne Hammer, Laci Clark, Lauren Hammer

 

2017 Roster

Seniors

Jewell Licht

Alex Barnett

 

Juniors

Chelsey Goodwin

Naudia Lane

Disney Marris

Natalie Evans

 

Sophomores

Nyah Robol

Molly Gardenhire

Madyson Houston

Haley Ummerteskee

Shiah Lewis

Abbie Earhart

Malaki Hedrick

Shawna Wilson

 

Freshmen

Morgan Goddard

Madyson Colpitt

Mercedes Cosby

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2017 Schedule

Aug. 10-12 - Dewar Tournament; TBA

Aug. 14 - vs Wagoner (DH); 5 p.m.

Aug. 15 - at Preston; 5 p.m.

Aug. 17 - vs Berryhill (DH); 5 p.m.

Aug. 18-19 - Kellyville Festival; TBA

Aug. 22 - vs Wilson; 5 p.m.

Aug. 24-26 - Prague Tournament; TBA

Aug. 28 - vs Catoosa; 5 p.m.

Aug. 29 - at Catoosa; 5 p.m.

Aug. 31 - vs Preston; 5 p.m.

Sept. 5 - at Henryetta; 5 p.m.

Sept. 8-10 - Mounds Tournament; TBA

Sept. 11 - at Hilldale; 5 p.m.

Sept. 12 - vs Hilldale; 5 p.m.

Sept. 14 - vs McAlester; 5 p.m.

Sept. 16 - Hall of Fame Shootout; TBA

Sept. 18 - vs Inola; 5 p.m.

Sept. 19 - at Inola; 5 p.m.

Sept. 21 - vs Bishop Kelley; 5 p.m.

Sept. 28-30 - District Tournament; TBA

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