SALINA, OK —
Rain, thunderstorms and tornadoes can't stop the Salina Wildcats — only delay them for awhile.
After the elements pushed Thursday's Salina Invitational Tournament games to Friday, the Wildcats stormed through the competition, posting a 3-0 record and improving to 19-8 nearing the end of the regular season.
After whipping Colcord 10-0, Salina stopped Inola 6-4 before dropping Class 2A No. 10 Ketchum for the second time this year in Saturday's final, 6-3.
The Wildcats are on an 8-1 tear to close the season after falling to 11-7 with a loss at Tahlequah April 8. That defeat was the third in a three-game skid that had some wondering if this team was ready for a return to the state tournament.
Salina stacked its early season schedule with quality opposition from higher classes, twice losing by a single run to 4A's top-ranked teams (Catoosa and Berryhill) and dotting the landscape with 4A and 5A competition.
Salina is led by a strong group of eight seniors, like ace Brent Soldier and his catcher Nate Holman, and fills in the gaps with plenty of talent from underclassmen.
Adair is on the other end of the youth spectrum, starting several freshmen and sophomores en route to a 12-12 record, including a 1-2 showing at the Salina Invitational.
Muldrow blitzed the Warriors in the opening round, 11-3, before Inola got in on the action with a 12-4 win. Adair etched its lone tourney win with a 9-3 decision over Westville with most of its upperclassmen away from the action for the junior/senior prom.
Locust Grove bookended its 9-3 win over Nathan Hale with a 13-0 loss to Westville in the first round and a 10-2 loss to Beggs. The Pirates now stand at 8-18 on the year.
Salina, Adair, Locust Grove and Chouteau are set to open the postseason this week, as each will begin district tournament play.
Salina will be the only Mayes County team to host its district tourney by virtue of its No. 6 state ranking on April 16. The Wildcats, now ranked fifth, will challenge Nowata.
Adair will go on the road to take on 3A No. 24 Chelsea Thursday, while Locust Grove draws No. 9 Jay in district play. Chouteau (5-16) is set for a doubleheader Thursday at 2A's Sallisaw Central.