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October 8, 2013

Home For Regionals

Lady Demons aim to return to state

DUNCAN — The Duncan High softball seniors remember their freshmen season well.

In 2010, the Lady Demons traveled to El Reno for a regional tournament and lost the championship game to the host Indians.

“Now, as seniors, it’s our turn,” said senior Taylor Barrick, as the Lady Demons prepare to host regionals this Wednesday and Thursday.

Duncan will open play against Northwest Classen at noon Wednesday, followed by El Reno facing Ardmore at 2 p.m. The double-elimination tourney continues with the losers playing each other at 4 p.m. and the winners facing off at 6 p.m.

The tourney concludes with the championship Thursday at 2 p.m.

The Lady Demons have won regionals in six of the eight years that Robert Cowan has coached them. The only years Duncan missed out on a state trip were in 2011, after losing to Shawnee, and 2010, the year El Reno beat Duncan in the finals.

“It’s not easy to get (to state),” Cowan said. “It takes a lot of time and effort.”

Barrick and her fellow seniors — Kortney Brown, Mollea Cramton, Sara McCormick, Autumn Parker and Jenny Rather —said that, in the past, they had a good group of upperclassmen to learn from. Now they, as seniors, get to work with and pass knowledge to a number of younger players.

“It’s not all about the upperclassmen,” Parker said. “The freshmen and sophomores have really stepped up this year.”

Among the younger players is freshman pitcher Corrina Rivas, who has handled the workload on the mound as Parker has battled a shoulder injury. But Cowan said Parker is ready to go and he plans to start her against Northwest Classen.

“Last year, she pitched about 80 percent of our games and got us to the state tourney,” Cowan said. “Earlier this year, I split her with Corrina, but then she had a shoulder injury.”

Parker remained in the lineup, though, taking a spot in the outfield. Meanwhile, the other seniors have done their part.

“They’ve played a huge part in our success this year and the past years,” Cowan said.

He noted Brown has played “pretty much every position” in her high school career. She has settled in at second base but has previously played every other position except pitcher and catcher.

Meanwhile, McCormick started at third base to open the season but moved back to her original position in the outfield. Cowan said McCormick has a “quick release” when she throws and that her batting has improved in the last 10 games.

First baseman Rather has been one of the team’s better fielders and the Lady Demons’ fifth leading hitter. Barrick and Cramton are part-time starters, with Barrick stepping in as a right fielder and Cramton as the designated player, or the equivalent to the designated hitter in baseball.

And then there’s junior Berkley Faulkner, who Cowan called “one of the three best players I have ever coached.” Faulkner tallied 11 home runs last season as a sophomore and has 10 this season with a .496 batting average.

Faulkner and the seniors appreciate the fan support from parents and friends this season.

“As softball players, we don’t think that the school takes us as seriously,” she said. “So it means a lot when our parents and friends come out.”

And fans have packed the stands for games this season.

“I’ve had people who have said to me, ‘I had never been to a softball game. But I came out one night and I don’t know why I didn’t do it more often,’” he said.

As Parker puts it, the chance to play regionals in front of the home crowd means “a more relaxed environment.”

“It’s a good way to end our senior year,” Brown added.

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