Katy Hoke knew it was going to be a tough bracket.
Even as the top seed and hosting the regional at their own stadium, Yukon’s skipper knew her Millerettes were going to have their hands full.
That premonition turned out to be true as YHS went 2-2 at the regional softball tournament.
Unfortunately for the Millerettes, both losses came to rival Mustang. That included a 12-9 loss in the title game Thursday.
“We’re very proud of the girls for fighting,” Hoke said. “I still think that our regional was one of the more difficult ones. Our No. 4 seed having the exact same record as our No. 1 and 2 seed.
“Having to play that No. 4 seed with a 20-10 record, it made it a lot more challenging for us having to go through that team. They’re a good program.”
Yukon had to hold off Norman North Thursday morning to advance to the regional championship against Mustang.
Yukon’s Taylor McMahon started the afternoon with a single into centerfield. While she was thrown out on the ensuing throw, AJ Rayburn landed on second after an errant throw from Mustang’s shortstop.
McKenna Johnson then blasted a double into right field that brought Rayburn home.
Yukon led 1-0.
It was in the top of the third inning that the Millerettes’ bats started to catch fire.
Taking advantage of fielding error from Mustang, YHS put two runners on base for McMahon.
She then clubbed a 3-run shot over the left field fence to give the Millerettes a 4-1 lead.
In the middle of the fourth inning Mustang’s Lauryn Cottrell came in relief to try and slow down the Millerettes’ attack.
But she walked Ariah Mitchell to load the bases for Taryn Blazevich.
Blazevich was able to get a roller going toward first base. Slaughter got to the ball and tried to get the force out at home. However, her throw was wild and two runs scored.
Rayburn, Johnson and Madison Montgom-ery came up with RBI singles as the Miller-ettes’ lead grew to a seemingly insurmountable 9-2 advantage.
However, the Broncos responded by loading the bases in the bottom of the fifth.
Landry Garza delivered and knocked in a pair of runs.
After Kaylee Bradley loaded the bases again, Payton Henry hit a grand slam and MHS was only down one run.
After giving up another single to Cottrell, Bradley was pulled and Jaycee McKee took the circle. She got the next two outs to close out the brutal inning.
“Kaylee’s velocity just wasn’t quite as much today as it was last night,” Hoke said. “She has thrown a lot of ball games for us this year. Jaycee did a good job when she came in, but they hit her well too.”
By the time Mustang came back up to bat, the momentum was fully on their side.
They added four more runs in the fifth to take a three-run lead.
“They had quite a few good hits there the last few innings,” Hoke said.
After Ariah Mitchell and Blazevich flew out, McMahon ended the game by striking out.
The Millerettes finished the season with a 21-13 record and two wins short of a trip to the 6A state tourney.
“I told them they battled hard because they had a harder road,” Hoke said. “But ultimately we fell short. We are very proud of them the way they fought, the way they hit the ball. They gave it everything they had.”
Yukon 2, Norman North 0
McKee took the mound for the Millerettes to start their win-or-go-home contest.
She allowed a hit to Norman North’s Trinity Hanska in the bottom of the first and then walked the next two batters to load the bases.
But McKee was able to pitch her way out of the jam and kept the Timberwolves scoreless.
In the third inning, the Millerettes’ Johnson was at the plate and runners on first and second when she walked. That loaded the bases for Gigi Vandelune.
But, once again, North found a way to get out of the inning without any damage and the game stayed knotted at 0-0.
In the top of the seventh inning, McMahon doubled to get the action going.
North then chose to intentionally walk Rayburn. Johnson then walked to load the bases for Bradley.
The senior dropped a clutch hit into shallow right field, which brought home two runs.
That would be all the Millerettes needed as McKee shut down the Timberwolves in the bottom of the inning to close out the game and advance to the championship series against Mustang.