Latta to battle No. 3 Cashion at 2A State

May 9—LATTA — The sixth-ranked Latta High School baseball team will be making its 39th trip to the spring state tournament when it battles No. 3 Cashion at 4 p.m. today at Memorial Field in Shawnee.

Other first-round matches at the Class 2A State Tournament include No. 1 Oktaha versus No. 26 Central Sallisaw at 11 a.m.; No. 5 Preston versus No. 4 Wister at 1:30 p.m. and No. 8 Panama versus No. 2 Dale at 6:30 p.m.

The Panthers will enter the state tournament with a 23-9 record after rolling through their 2A Regional Tournament played last week at Seminole State College. That regional was supposed to be played at Latta before wet weather that soaked the area forced officials to find a new venue.

Latta opened the regional with a 14-6 win over 27th-ranked Oklahoma Union and then defeated No. 11 Ketchum twice by counts of 9-0 and 13-1.

"Our goal is to be playing our best baseball at the end of the year and the guys did that," said Latta head coach Dillon Atkinson. "We played complimentary baseball. Our pitchers gave up one earned run during the tournament, and we outscored our opponents 36-7. This group can win games in a bunch of different ways. You don't luck into playing well come playoffs. Our guys were focused and determined to get back to the state tournament."

The Panthers will be looking for the school's first spring state title since the 2005 season.

The first step toward that goal will be finding a way to get past a tough Cashion club that has already defeated Latta twice this season. Ironically, both of those Cashion victories came at Dibble High School. The Wildcats edged Latta 4-2 in the finals of the Dibble Tournament topped the Panthers 6-3 in the Dibble Festival.

Cashion enters the state tournament with a 30-5 record and has won 14 of its past 15 games.

"The state tournament has a loaded field with great programs and great coaches. Coach (Blake) Mounce does a great job with his program (Cashion). They are an athletic group who has proven they can win big games," Atkinson said. "We have played them twice this spring, coming up short both times. However, our guys are confident and playing well at the right time. We are excited for the challenge."

Atkinson said his team must do things 'The Latta Way' to have a chance to pull off the first-round upset.

"For us to be successful this weekend, we will have to play our brand of baseball. We rely on good pitching, good defense, timely hitting, putting pressure on defenses and trying to be the most competitive team on the field," he said. "We just need to stay within ourselves and play the game one pitch at a time."



At Shawnee High School

Thursday, May 9

Game 1: Oktaha vs. Central Sallisaw, 11 a.m.

Game 2: Preston vs. Wister, 1:30 p.m.

Game 3: Latta vs. Cashion, 4 p.m.

Game 4: Dale vs. Panama, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, May 10

Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 11 a.m.

Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 11

Game 7: Championship, noon.