By TONY EIERDAM
Pitching can be everything in baseball and softball.
After one game of District 6-3A play, the Mineral Wells Rams baseball team and the Lady Rams softball squad gave a peak to the rest of the district what it will be like to face the MWHS diamond teams.
The Lady Rams and Rams return to District 6-3A action today when both host Lake Worth. The Lady Rams and Lady Frogs will play at 7:30 p.m. at Kessler Field, while across the way at Pratt Field the Rams and Bullfrogs will have their first pitch at 7:30 p.m.
In wins over Castleberry on Friday at Castleberry, MWHS pitchers in both ball games combined to allow no runs, two hits, no walks and 16 strikeouts in a combined 11 innings.
The Rams defeated the Lions, 17-0, behind a perfect game by Matt Tincher. The “Moose” sent down all 12 batters he faced and struck out five in a contest stopped after four innings due to the 15-run rule.
Rams head coach Bret Barrick said Tincher’s curve ball impressed him more than the lefty’s 90 miles-per-hour fast ball.
“Matt was throwing his curve balls for strikes, and he was just staying within himself and hitting spots,” Barrick said. “He wasn’t gassing it up; he didn’t have to.
“We played good defense behind him. He pitched smart. He had a big lead so he went out there and worked on his mechanics and concentrated on hitting his spots.
“He did a good job of working his curve ball inside and out.”
The Rams knew coming into the season that Tincher would be the No. 1 pitcher, and there would be heavy competition for the No. 2 starting spot for district play.
Aaron Wheeler had solid non-district outings on the hill, and junior Chris Rapp also showed great promise, striking out eight in a game. Freshman Braxton Allen – who has also played shortstop and was the starting catcher Friday night – displayed pizzazz in his last start on the mound with 10 strikeouts.
Despite the apparent depth at pitcher, Barrick said he will go with senior Brandon Martinez – who started in center field Friday – as his starter on the hill in today’s game against Lake Worth.
Over the past two years Martinez has seen mound duty as a starter in pre-district tournament games and occasionally as a reliever.
Barrick said Martinez’s last two outings on the hill were impressive.
“Brandon has a good fastball and throws a split-finger fastball that falls off the table,” Barrick said. “He has earned a chance to be our No. 2 starter. But it is nice to have depth at pitcher.”
Lady Rams head softball coach David Tarver has three legitimate starting pitchers in second-year hurlers Hope Patterson and Allie Stephens, and freshman sensation Kelsey Keeton.
With Stephens coming off an injury, Tarver worked her back into the lineup Friday as a designated player (hitter) where she would only have to bat.
With that move, Tarver was forced to keep Patterson at third base and pitch Keeton.
Keeton responded with an 11-strikeout effort while allowing no walks and two bloop hits.
“Kelsey pitched very well,” Tarver said. “Their two hits were a blooper we could have got and a nub out to center field.
“Kelsey had their batters completely off balance all night long.
“She was pitching ahead in the count; she had a good change up.”
Tarver would not say who would be pitching today, and a lot of that rests with the health of Stephens.
But it would surprise nobody if Tarver sticks with Keeton, the hot hand right now in the circle for the Lady Rams.
By TONY EIERDAM
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