Former Rogers County athletes compete in NCAA Division I Regional softball tournaments

May 21—Two former Rogers County softball standouts made notable contributions in the NCAA Division I regional tournaments last week.

Inola native Lillie Walker played a key role in helping Duke win the Durham Regional, while Sequoyah alum Ariel Thompson saw her college career conclude as Grand Canyon was eliminated from the Los Angeles Regional. Both athletes had limited playing time over the weekend but were significant contributors for their teams throughout the season.

Walker, pitching for the 10th-seeded Blue Devils, threw two innings in a 6-1 victory over Morgan State on Friday. In her brief appearance, she recorded three strikeouts and allowed three hits and one walk on 31 pitches.

Although Walker didn't pitch again over the weekend, Duke cruised past South Carolina with 8-0 and 10-1 victories on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, securing a spot in the Columbia Super Regional against 7th-seeded Missouri. The Blue Devils, boasting a 50-6 record, will face Missouri starting at 2 p.m. on Friday.

This season, Walker has compiled a 12-1 record in 26 appearances, including one start. She has an ERA of 1.61 with 39 strikeouts while giving up 19 runs (14 earned) on 47 hits, helping Duke win the ACC Tournament championship for a second time in four seasons.

Thompson, representing Grand Canyon, pitched one-third of an inning in a 9-0 loss to UCLA on Friday.

During her brief stint, she threw only 11 pitches and allowed two hits and two runs. She did not see action in the Antelopes' remaining games, which included victories over San Diego State (9-7) and Virginia Tech (4-1) on Saturday before a season-ending 9-1 loss to UCLA on Sunday.

Throughout the Antelopes' 50-13 season, Thompson pitched 68.1 innings across 20 appearances, recording 36 strikeouts. She allowed 62 hits, 33 runs (30 earned) and 15 walks, finishing the season with an ERA of 3.07 and an 8-1 record.

Thompson concluded her career with Grand Canyon with a 41-10 record and a cumulative ERA of 2.68, showing consistent improvement each year. During her tenure, she was instrumental in helping the Antelopes secure three-consecutive WAC Tournament championships.