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Oakville hopes difficult schedule in regular season leads to postseason run

Oakville hopes difficult schedule in regular season leads to postseason run


ARNOLD  Oakville High senior softball pitcher Julie Lato knows the Tigers' 15-11 record will not turn any heads.

And the right-hander is fine with that.

"We saw a lot of good pitching during the regular season," she said. "Sometimes we did pretty well, sometimes not too (well). But we knew it was eventually going to help us."

The Tigers run at a district title was postponed by rain Thursday afternoon.

Oakville and Poplar Bluff were tied 0-0 after two innings in their Class 5 District 1 semifinal at Fox High when Mother Nature intervened.

The contest is scheduled to be resumed in the top of the third inning at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The winner will face Cape Notre Dame (20-11) in the championship on Saturday at a time to be determined. Notre Dame knocked off Jackson 3-1 in the first semifinal Thursday.

The Tigers traditionally face a beefed-up schedule in hopes of turning regular-season lumps into postseason glory.

This year is no exception.

Of Oakville's 11 losses, 10 have come against teams with winning records. The lone exception was an 8-5 loss to defending Class 4 state champion Webster Groves on Sept. 2.

"You want to be challenged during the regular season," Oakville coach Rich Sturm said. "You're preparing yourself all season for moments like this."

The Tigers were more than ready Thursday. They simply didn't get a chance to flex their muscles.

Lato, who is 5-1 with a 3.08 ERA, gave up five hits over the two innings but got out of trouble, thanks to a line-drive double play grab by second baseman Lilly Kahle in the opening frame.

Lato, like Poplar Bluff hurler Bre Thresher, struggled in the steady rain.

"It was hard gripping a wet ball," Lato said. "If you grab it on the seams, it slides out of your fingers and it's tough to get more spin on the ball."

Oakville senior shortstop Carlie Huelsing led off the first with a single. Junior outfielder Mary Tutwiler began the second with a leadoff walk.

Sturm agreed that the umpires made the right move when they halted play as the rain intensified.

"First and foremost, it's a safety issue," Sturm said. "You're talking about cleats on turf, which is extremely slick. Secondary to that is, 'Do you want a district game decided by throwing a slick ball?' This is the right decision."

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