Sep. 14—When Makenzi Swick returned to the circle for the top of the seventh inning, she needed only two more strikeouts to break a Stillwater High softball record.
She didn't take long to do it.
Swick, a senior starting pitcher, led the Lady Pioneers to a 5-1 victory against Bixby on Monday evening at Couch Park, handing the Spartans their first district loss and putting Stillwater atop district standings. At the same time, Swick etched her name in Stillwater softball history.
With 403 career strikeouts, Swick surpassed the mark that no one had touched for more than 20 years. Amber Annis, a former Lady Pioneers pitcher who went on to play for Oklahoma State, set the previous record of 402 during her career from 1997-2000.
Immediately after the game, Swick wasn't yet certain that she had reached the mark, but coach Karie Linsenmeyer confirmed the news.
"I kind of have had it in the back of my mind since the beginning of this season because I was pretty close to it last season," Swick said. "So yeah, it's definitely something that I've been thinking about and pretty excited that I might have gotten it."
In the top of the seventh, Swick needed only six pitches to accomplish this feat. Swick threw three straight strikes to Bixby's Kenzi Mercer, tying the record, and immediately followed with three to Sarah Barbee for the monumental 403rd strikeout.
Although Swick then allowed Elise Gibson to reach first base with a bunt, Swick and the Lady Pioneers swiftly squelched the Spartans' late spark, recording the game-ending out with Brynn Daniel's popup to Stillwater shortstop Cash Herber.
In August, Stillwater (16-8 overall, 8-1 District 6A-3) fell to Bixby 2-1 in extra innings, but Swick said her team has grown since then.
Throughout early-season ups and downs, Linsenmeyer emphasized the importance of figuring out how to best synergize all of the Lady Pioneers' strengths, and the victory against the Spartans (15-6, 8-1) showed her how that can happen.
"They had the right mindset and kind of had a killer attitude," Linsenmeyer said. That's probably the most complete game I've seen them play in a while as far as defensively, pitching, offensively, and then the energy in the dugout was tremendous. So if I can figure out how to make them do that every time we play, then I'd be a pretty darn good coach."
Bixby made quick progress with a double and an RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning, but Swick's mindset wasn't shaken. In the bottom of the first, she chopped a double to left-center field, sending Kylie Turner across home plate to tie the Spartans at 1.
After giving the Lady Pioneers' offense an early boost, Swick took control of the game from the circle. She finished with 10 strikeouts on her career night, continuing to flummox batters with her range of pitches.
"She had a pitch work today that she hasn't had working all the time this year, and that's her backdoor curve," Linsenmeyer said. "And it's a game changer. With that and her curve and then her changeup, she's hard to hit."
As Swick prevented the Spartans from adding any runs beyond the first inning, sophomore Addyson Brown gave Stillwater the lead it needed. In the bottom of the third, Brown knocked a two-RBI double into the gap at right-center field, enthusiastically clapping when she reached second base and watched teammates Lyric Perry and Turner score.
"Addyson has been improving in the last couple of weeks," Linsenmeyer said. "She struggled at the beginning of the season to kind of find her rhythm, and now she's starting to really settle in. She's hitting the ball to all fields, just really doing a good job."
The Lady Pioneers extended their lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the third when Kendyl Prichard hit an RBI single to score Brown.
Then senior catcher Sidney McLaughlin blasted a solo home run over the right-field fence to add the final run in the bottom of the fourth. While McLaughlin rounded the bases, her teammates gathered at home plate, swarming her with celebration when she arrived.
As the Lady Pioneers prepare for a quick turnaround with their home game against Piedmont at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Linsenmeyer strives for them to maintain that level of energy.
"That's exactly where we need it to be all the time, but that's the hardest thing to do in coaching is to generate that kind of intensity and energy and teamwork on a day-to-day basis," Linsenmeyer said. "...That's the hardest thing to generate. To know that it's there and that they can play at that level, that's state-tournament-level mentality, so that's exciting."