By Robby Jones for KVRISING.com
In 1975, the Kellyville Ponies Baseball team walked off the diamond as Class A State Champions. It was the first state title in school history and would turn names like Baldridge, Warrior, Walters, Quinn, Jackson, and Buchanan, into Pony Nation legends. Who would have thought it would be 44 years before KV would get the opportunity to claim that title again?
Growing up in KV and playing sports, you were aware of that ‘75 team, every team since had been compared to and evaluated against that squad. If you played a team sport, wearing that Pony uniform, you strived to reach the standards set by that legendary group! KV has produced several individual State Champions in Track and Field, and have even won the Academic State Championship. Only one team had been able to hoist that gold trophy from the playing field; the 1975 class would stand alone.
Fast forward to 2019, the Class of ‘75 will have some company in the trophy case. The Girls’ Slow-Pitch team wanted to join that exclusive club. On May 6th, 2019, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the Lady Ponies won the Class 5A State Championship. Seniors Madison Neighbors, Mayson Evans, Makiah Torres, Sarah Jones, and Cheyenne McCleery etched their names into the Kellyville history books for years to come. In dominating fashion, the Ponies said, “Finished Business!” and hoisted that golden trophy.
The Lady Ponies entered into the State Tournament, ranked Number 2 in the State, with a 28-4 record. The State ranking was a school record in any sport; no other team has been ranked higher. In order to finish their business, they would have to face a loaded State Tournament field. Numbers 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13 would stand in the way of that elusive championship. The Ponies had gone unbeaten against Class 5A schools, had a record of 21-4 against ranked opponents, with all of their losses against high-ranked 6A squads.
The Ponies did not come into the State Tournament as underdogs; they came in as one of the favorites with chips on their shoulders and unfinished business. Averaging a State best 18 runs per game, they were on a mission to join that exclusive club. Having beaten the Number 1- ranked team in Fort Gibson, the polls did not change, denying the Ponies of the Number 1 ranking. Even beating perennial power Tahlequah Sequoyah in an instant classic, 31-29, during the regular season and once again in the Regional Finals, couldn’t get KV past the Number 2 spot.
Facing the 8th-ranked Perkins Demons in the first contest, the Ponies fell down 2-0 early. With the Senior leadership and a student section so loud that at times was deafening, shaking the ground and bleachers, the younger players introduced themselves to the softball world. Sophomores Grace Littlefield, Kailyn Bearpaw, and Madison Riley stepped up and led an impressive 17-3 run-rule victory in Game 1.
Number 4-ranked Sulphur would be the next victim of the day. Once again led by the Seniors, Neighbors, Torres, Evans, and Jones, the Juniors Haylee Wiggs and Cierah Jones didn’t want to be forgotten, and Kellyville finished a 4-inning run-rule in 21-7. The Ponies would have to wait to see who their final opponent would be.
The opponent would be, as many people predicted, State powerhouse Sequoyah. The Indians had won the Fast-pitch State Title earlier in the school year. Anyone who watched the previous two meetings, knew that they had witnessed the two best teams in the state. Many assumed this matchup would have a Part Three, so the anticipation was electrifying.
Losing the coin toss for the 3rd time of the day, the Ponies would have to win the title as the visiting team. Coach Neighbors and Coach Todd knew it was simply a matter of how badly the girls wanted it. Madison Neighbors led off the game with a shot that cleared the 220-foot outfield fence and the Ponies were off and running, with a barrage of home runs, at one time, four dingers in a row.
Sophomore Jaydee Pulliam said, “Hey, I can hit them, also,” and hit a shot screaming over the left field wall. It was just a matter of time.
With one out, in the bottom of the 5th, leading 18-5, and a runner at first base, a hard-hit ground ball to Wiggs at second, pitch to Neighbors to Evans at first, and mayhem erupted on Field 4.
There are many accomplishments in this group: Highest ranking in school history; 31 wins, the most by any team in school history; 246 Homes Runs (2nd-most state history); Average 18.1 runs per contest; 56 runs scored in the State Tournament.
A total team effort, the 2019 Class 5A State Champions, “The Kellyville Lady Ponies”!