HOWE, Okla. -- Parker Patterson has caught every single varsity win, 95 now, for the Poteau Lady Pirates over the past four years.
Thursday night, was the biggest.
In addition to being a stalwart behind the plate, Patterson also provided a big hit for the Lady Pirates in a 2-1 win over Pocola for the championship of the LeFlore County Fast-Pitch Softball Tournament at Howe.
The county championship is the first for Poteau (22-5) since 2016 and ended a record six-year stronghold Pocola (24-4) had on LeFlore County. Poteau entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and has now won 12 straight games since a loss to Pocola.
"That sounds great," Patterson said. "It's the first time we've been here since 2016, so I'm just really pumped."
Pocola junior Allyssa Parker led off the bottom of the first inning with a one-hop triple off the wall near the foul line in right field and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Riley Jerrell for a quick 1-0 lead.
Patterson led off the top of the second for Poteau with a sharp single up the middle on a 2-2 count off Parker, who had just committed to play collegiately at the University of Oklahoma on Monday.
"I had a two-strike approach," Patterson said. "I was looking for that fast ball but was really just trying to swing at anything close and make good contact. She provides the power, you just have to get on it."
Patterson advanced to second when Emma Walker was hit by a pitch and consecutive sacrifice bunts by Briley Bowman and Morgan Hagen plated Patterson to tie the game up.
"That was big with this crowd and all these kids and the momentum," Poteau coach Ryan Dill said. "I thought if we can bunt one back in and show them we can bunt, too, that would be huge. Sure enough, Morgan got a big bunt down for us to score that run from third. That shut the momentum down."
Poteau took a 2-1 lead in the third inning when shortstop Emery Lomon reached on a one-out error, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Emma Hackler and scored on an error on a hard hit ball by Annika Dill.
"Annika was due there to hit the ball hard," coach Dill said. "We usually don't bunt a runner to second with one out, but facing this type of team and this type of pitcher we wanted to get Lomon to second because we knew she could score on anything through the infield. Annika hit the ball really hard. The second baseman got a glove on it. It was hard to handle. We scored on that, and that was really huge."
Answering quickly against Parker, who threw a perfect game with 16 strikeouts in the semifinals Wednesday, was critical for the Lady Pirates.
"It just shows how much we've grown as a team to be able to come back like that," Patterson said.
Hackler, a sophomore, threw six shutout innings to cap the win for Poteau, helped with the early lead.
"That was all good," Hackler said. "It made me feel more relaxed."
Hackler pitched out of trouble in the third, fourth, fifth and six innings with the help of her defense.
"They played really well behind me," Hackler said. "I'm very grateful."
Parker led off the third inning with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice before Hackler retired the final two batters on a pop up and grounder back to her.
Lely Parga scorched a double off the wall with two outs in the fourth, but Hackler coaxed a weak grounder to escape that inning.
Elliott Alexander led off the fifth inning for Pocola with a hard single but was forced at second by Parker. Hackler retired the final two batters on a foul pop and a deep fly to center.
"She's only a sophomore, but she does a really good job," Ryan Dill said. "She doesn't pitch like a sophomore. We think she's a senior the way she's throwing. She's tough as nails and keeps getting better."
Maci Maxwell led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to right, but Lomon, Poteau's shortstop, stabbed a liner and made a snap throw to first to double the runner off first base. Hackler retired the final batter with an easy pop up.
Hackler also needed a called third strike to escape further damage in the first inning, which also included Poteau's only error.
"We just had the one little ball back here to Emma early that we made an error on, but after that we were solid the whole game defensively," Dill said. "That's what we've been talking about for the regionals, super regionals and state tournament coming up that we've got to be solid defensively, and we have the last few weeks."
Poteau managed just a lone single against Parker after the third inning, but the Lady Pirates made the lead stand up after giving up the one run in the first inning.
"We had really good defense and pitching after that," Dill said. "I'm super proud. They've grown up a lot, they've grown up a lot this season. They're playing better every week, maturing and doing things a lot better every week.
LEFLORE COUNTY FAST-PITCH CHAMPIONSHIP
At Howe High School
POTEAU 2, POCOLA 1
Hackler and Patterson; Parker and Parga. WP – Hackler. LP – Parker. HRs – none.