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Michael Pineda/The Duncan Banner Tanya Whaley is one of several returning starters for Duncan next season.

The Duncan Banner

For the fifth consecutive year, the Duncan softball team reached the state tournament. And it may have been the trickiest accomplishment of those five teams to reach Oklahoma City.

Playing inconsistent throughout the season, Duncan pulled together when it counted most and finished the season on a strong note to post a 20-16 record. The Lady Demons picked up a win at the state tournament and went the distance in both of its losses.

“I think that there were times that I was pretty sure that we would not advance past regionals,” Duncan coach Robert Cowan said. “Traditionally, my teams have started off slow and gotten better. But this team didn’t get better until two weeks before regionals.”

The turning point in the season came at the East-West shootout in Tulsa where, ironically enough, Duncan lost Madison Pewitt to an injury. Pewitt returned for the state tournament and the Lady Demons began to pull together, particularly on the defensive side.

There were a variety of reasons for the Lady Demons’ inability to turn it around earlier in the season. Defensively, the team had its struggles and it never really developed offensively. The lineup was in flux throughout the season as the starting lineup was a revolving door.

Simply put, there was always something happening with the team.

“There were a lot of distractions,” Cowan said. “Some were self-inflicted, some we could control and some we couldn’t.

“We never got into a defensive rhythm until the end of the year. We would play four or five games and just play terrible. At the end of the season, we had trouble scoring.”

The Lady Demons did get a boost from several newomers, including Alison Carter, Tanya Whaley and Jaci Jessen. All three were starters and played a significant role in Duncan’s state run.

“I think because of the late summer additions, we had a chance to be very competitive,” Cowan said. “It just took us a while to get there.”

The Demons were led by a trio of senior starters this season in Madison Pewitt, Allison Edwards and Carter. Those three starters accounted for the majority of Duncan’s offense this season, hitting one, three and four in the lineup.

The good news for next year’s team is that seven girls with starting experience will return. That group will be bolstered by a group of freshmen coming off a successful season at the middle school level.

“It is one of the most talented freshmen classes that we have had in the past four or five years,” Cowan said.

With Whaley back in the mix at pitcher, Duncan has the tools to extend its state tournament streak next season.

“I think we will be very competitive if Tanya will continue working,: Cowan said. “We have a good core group coming back.

“I think we have a chance to be just as good or better next season. All the girls will play next summer and that is a big key.”

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