The Durant (Okla.) Lady Lions did their homework, and it helped them advance to the Class 5A state tournament in October.
The Lady Lions beat the Pryor (Okla.) Tigers on back-to-back days to win their double-elimination regional tournament. Coach Aaron Mullens credited his team’s defense — and its ability to align properly for certain batters — for success in the 11-0 deciding victory.
“We had our defense aligned really, really well that game,” Mullens said. “It was my assistant coach (Cody Little) that did a really good job of doing it.”
Mullens and Little use GameChanger to scout opponents and prepare spray charts before games. The app helps them set up the Lady Lion defense to match each batter’s preferences.
“We use the spray charts more than anything for opposing teams,” Mullens said.
“We look back at previous years. (For some teams) we have at least 10-11-12 at-bats. That’s enough to compile data to obtain that kind of baseline.”
The deciding meeting with Pryor in the regional final was the Lady Lions’ third game against the Tigers of the season.
Pryor pounded out seven hits and won an early-season game 5-0. Cleanup hitter Meleya Belden had two hits, including a double, in that win.
The Lady Lions won the second meeting 9-5 — despite giving up 11 hits to the Tigers — to send Pryor into the regional tournament’s loser’s bracket. Belden had two doubles and two RBIs, and leadoff Hunter Gilstrap added a double and two runs.
But Pryor returned the next day, and Durant clinched the regional tournament title. The Lady Lions held the Tigers to three singles. Belden went hitless with a pair of pop-ups, and Gilstrap had a two-out single.
Meanwhile, Lady Lions starting pitcher Kylie Williams struck out seven on the way to the five-inning shutout victory.
“We scouted the crap out of them,” Mullens said. “They do some crazy things, so we saw a lot of in-game stuff. It helped us align our defense and where to pitch certain hitters. That was really beneficial for us.”
Belden hit both of her doubles to left field in Durant’s 9-5 win earlier in the tournament. She didn’t get a chance to hit that way in the next meeting, instead settling for pop-ups to short and right field.
The Lady Lions had a defensive game plan for each Pryor batter.
“It’s not like MLB shifts,” Mullens said. “We moved (the defense) around and played close to the line (for slappers). A step here or a step there in the infield. In the outfield there were some pretty drastic moves.
“But we didn’t do a (New York Yankees catcher) Brian McCann shift completely.”