Stephens – who started in Mineral Wells' previous three wins over Springtown by 9-3, 10-3 and 10-3 – made short work of the inning with back-to-back outs and threw three shutout innings before Springtown took advantage of some errors to put three runs on the board in the fifth. She finished with a glowing stat line, including 10 strikeouts and three runs on two hits and a walk through 5 2/3 innings.
"I thought the momentum needed a change and it worked," Tarver said of the pitching change. "Kelsey was pitching good. She was hitting her spots, they just had the timing at the time and were putting the ball in play. I'm confident Kelsey would have pitched a terrific game, but that was a pure strategy decision.
"They had a little momentum. It was senior night, they were all amped up and you could see it. I thought it was a momentum-breaker. It had nothing to do with the effectiveness of pitches or pitching.
"I was actually going to put Kelsey back in the last two innings to show them how much better she is than them. We just jumped on them and she never got a chance to warm up again, so it didn't work out that way."
Stephens' effort was helped by the way the Lady Rams' bats came to life, scoring in five of six innings, including a five-run second and 6-run sixth to put the game away.
Many girls hit well on the night. Bethany Allen was 2-for-5 with two triples, two RBIs and two runs and Hope Patterson was 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly, two RBIs and a run.
Ashley Valdez was also 2-for-3 with a double and three runs and Anaiz Mendoza finished 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, two RBIs and two runs scored.