Mineral Wells Index
— By DAVID MAY
The Mineral Wells Lady Rams weren’t going to let one slip away on their own field.
The Lady Rams were aggressive at the plate in the first inning, with shortstop Bethany Allen, pitcher Allie Stephens and third baseman Ashley Valdez each cracking doubles while the team took advantage of three Glen Rose errors to race to an early 3-0 lead.
But Mineral Wells (27-7) seemed to let its guard down midway, allowing the Lady Tigers to tie it in the third. However, the Lady Rams refocused to plate three more runs and claim a 6-3 win in Friday’s first game of a best-of-three area playoff series at Kessler Field.
The series shifted to Glen Rose on Saturday afternoon for game two and three, if necessary. Saturday's first pitch is set for 1 p.m.
“I definitely liked that we jumped up on them early,” said Lady Rams head coach David Tarver. “I didn’t like that we went flat a little early and let them get back in the game. But we were able to get back on our game and play our game.”
Stephens had an outstanding game in the circle, going the distance and allowing just five hits and three earned runs while walking just one and striking out nine Lady Tigers (15-18). One of those strikeout victims reached base on a passed ball.
She also helped her cause at the plate by going 2-for-3, including her double that plated Kelsey Keeton in the first inning, and scoring twice.
The Lady Tigers committed five errors to Mineral Wells’ two, while the Lady Rams outhit Glen Rose, 7-5.
Stephens opened the game by fanning two Lady Tigers, while giving up her lone pass and one of the five hits Glen Rose would muster in the game.
Allen began the bottom of the first inning by shooting a double over the infield. She moved to third on Hope Patterson’s ground out and scored on an error by the Lady Tiger’s catcher, whose throw down to third skipped and went down the left field line, allowing Allen to toe the plate for the game’s first run.
Keeton reached base on a throwing error by the Glen Rose third baseman and scored on Stephens’ double. Stephens would then reach home on Valdez’s double to give the Lady Rams their early 3-0 margin.
The Lady Tigers rallied in the third on two hits and an error to tie the game. The Lady Rams returned to the dugout seemingly flat and down, resulting in Tarver gathering the team around him to try and get them refocused and re-energized.
The Lady Rams retook the lead for good in the fourth inning. Stephens led off with a single that was played into a double on an error by the Lady Tigers’ left fielder, who allowed the ball to roll under and past her. With one out and Stephens moved to third base, second baseman Addison Singleton delivered an RBI hit to put Mineral Wells up 4-3.
In the fifth, Allen again set the table by opening the frame with a walk. Victoria Huffman singled, and Allen sped around second and easily made third base, with Huffman hustling and taking second on the throw to third. Patterson’s sacrifice fly scored Allen and allowed Huffman to move to third. Keeton followed with a single to plate Huffman for the final score of 6-3.
Stephens did the rest from the circle, easily dispatching the Lady Tigers in the sixth and seventh innings.
“We found our stride in the middle of the game,” said Tarver, praising Stephens for strong finish pitching that kept him from putting in Keeton, keeping her fresh for Saturday.
He said Keeton and Stephens could both see action in the circle Saturday, saying they are different in ways that compliment each other and help keep the opponent off balance.
Glen Rose used two pitchers in the game. Hannah Morales started and went four innings, allowing four runs and four hits, before giving way to Taya Vasquez, who pitched two frames, allowing two runs on two hits.
See Tuesday’s Index for a complete recap of Saturday’s action and check the website and the Index’s Facebook and Twitter feeds for scores and updates.