DUNCAN — Byrnes’ quest for two ended in two.
Needing a win to force a third and deciding game against White Knoll, the defending 5A state champions were defeated 6-2 as the Timberwolves earned a bit of revenge after falling to Byrnes in last year’s state title series. The title was the first for the White Knoll program.
“I thought (pitcher) Haylee Whitesides did a great job in both games,” Byrnes Coach Brandi Aiken said, referencing the freshman being asked to become the starting pitcher after junior Kacey Widmyer was lost to an injury in the upper state finals. “With Kasey being our ace and Haylee only pitching in six games all season, she did well against that lineup.
“Taking Kasey out of the middle of the lineup and having to move everyone else around, we were different. The things we are known for, like running and short games, we couldn’t get that going with the shifting of our lineup. I congratulate White Knoll and I am not one to make excuses, but I feel like there is an asterisk by this one because the 30-2 Byrnes team wasn’t the one that took the field. We just came up short and didn’t end up getting things done.”
White Knoll looked to pull away in the top of the fifth. Leading 1-0, the Timberwolves scored three runs. Pitcher Andrea Lyon provided the big hit of the inning, a two-run blast over the left-center field fence that pushed the lead to 4-0.
The Rebels cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning. After Laurin Nodine scored on a wild pitch, Haven Pesce singled to drive in Christa Whitesides.
White Knoll pushed the lead back to three in the top of the sixth on Hannah Goodwin’s second sacrifice fly RBI of the game.
Both teams had an opportunity to take control in the fourth. White Knoll loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the frame, but two force outs at home and one at second ended the threat.
The bottom of the inning was almost identical when the Rebels loaded the bases without an out. White Knoll pitcher Andrea Lyon, however, struck out the next three batters.
“We needed to score then,” Aiken said. “Not getting a run across was a momentum killer, just like it killed their momentum when we got out of the bases loaded jam.
“When we came back and scored the two runs in the fifth, I felt like we were in it. We still had nine outs left. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”