Senior Naomi Catt was the one who emerged as the hero for Cherokee.
After the Lady Warriors (18-7-1) entered the bottom of the seventh inning at Boling Park tied 3-3, Anna Rowe almost ended the game with a ball to center field that missed being a home run by just a few feet, instead hitting the top of the fence for a double.
After two groundouts, Catt stepped to the plate with two outs and Rowe still on second. Catt swung at a pitch, made contact and dropped a bloop single into right field — just outside the reach of diving right fielder Jessie Ricks — that scored Rowe and won the game for the Lady Warriors.
Cherokee coach Tonya Carlisle was pleased with the performance of two of her senior leaders — Rowe, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and scored a run, and Catt, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“They both had some big hits for us (Wednesday), so it was nice to see some of our seniors step it up,” Carlisle said.
Cherokee found itself trailing in the top of the third inning when Sequoyah’s Hannah Kidd, who had doubled to open the inning, scored off of a throwing error by Catt as she attempted to throw Kidd out at third.
Things seemed as if they were going to get worse for the Lady Warriors in the top of the fourth, when hits from Olivia Black and Sophia Andretta put runners on second and third for Sequoyah (13-10) with no outs.
But rather than fold, Cherokee’s defense responded, first with a diving catch from right fielder Courtney Nations, and then a harmless pop fly caught by shortstop Shelly Martinez.
With two outs and runners still stuck at second and third, it looked as if Sequoyah’s Mikayla Cagle was about to put the Lady Chiefs ahead with a line drive to center field. Rowe, however, made a leaping over-the-shoulder catch to end the rally and provide Cherokee with some much-needed momentum.
Off the back of their defensive display, the tide began to turn in the Lady Warriors’ favor in the bottom of the inning.
Katie Stamey led off with a double, which was followed by a walk for Rowe. After Layken Adkins advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Catt drove in Stamey with a single for Cherokee’s first run of the game.
Kaitlyn Leftwich then brought in Rowe on a squeeze bunt that gave the Lady Warriors a 2-1 lead.
After Sequoyah’s Liz Prance tied it in the fifth with a sacrifice fly, Cherokee took the lead back in the bottom of the inning when a double by Rowe drove in Kelli McCormack
The Lady Chiefs refused to go away, however, and tied the game once again in the sixth on Dakota Hughes’ home run.
That’s as far as Sequoyah could come, with no more runs scoring before Catt’s walk-off single.
Earning the victory for the Cherokee was Catt’s younger sister, freshman Rachel Catt, who gave up nine hits and two earned runs in a complete game.
Kidd, who was 3-for-4, led Sequoyah at the plate.
Sequoyah coach Todd Morrissey felt that, if his players had been able to come up with more hits when they had runners on base, then the Lady Chiefs would have left with a victory.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score,” Morrissey said. “If we could have gotten a hit or two when we had runners on the bases, we could have had a five- or six-run lead. We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that we created.”
Carlisle, meanwhile, is hoping that Cherokee, which has locked up the No. 2 seed in Region 5AAAAAA, will use the victory to keep the momentum going toward the region and state tournaments.
Sequoyah will look to rebound tonight against North Springs in a Region 7AAAAA game the Lady Chiefs need to win to have a chance at finishing in one of region’s top two spots. Sequoyah is 6-2 in region play, a half-game behind co-leaders Kell and Creekview. Two region games remain on the Lady Chiefs’ schedule, including a game with Kell that was rained out Tuesday.