It was the stuff of legends.
Mineral Wells junior slugger Hope Patterson had already hit a home run and “nearly took off the pitcher’s head” with a line shot in previous at bats Tuesday night during the Lady Rams victory over Abilene Cooper at Kessler Field.
So when Patterson came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning with a runner at second base and two outs, Cooper’s coach understandably instructed his pitcher to walk Patterson.
In high school softball, not only can’t a team simply direct the batter to go to first base on an intentional walk, unlike in city-league softball, but the catcher also has to maintain her position behind the plate and cannot extend her arm out to give the pitcher a target on an intentional walk like is seen in baseball at all levels, amateur or professional.
The high school rule – as is its purpose – makes it difficult to intentionally walk a batter, as Cooper learned Tuesday night.
“(Cooper’s coach) was telling her he had better not see her throw a pitch near the strike zone,” Lady Rams head coach David Tarver said. “When the count went to 3-0, I told Hope to swing if it was close (to the strike zone).”
Patterson complied, and when the pitch came to within 12 inches of the outside corner, the junior right-handed batter hit a line drive over the right-field fence to give the Lady Rams an 11-10 lead, which tuned out to be the final score.
The win evens the Lady Rams’ record at 1-1.
The MWHS ladies will continue non-district play at the Glen Rose tournament today and Saturday.
It was a strange game for the Lady Rams, who committed eight errors. But MWHS smashed 15 hits, led by Patterson with four hits, including a double and the two round-trippers. Patterson finished with six runs batted in and scored three runs.
Addison Singleton, Bethany Allen and Allie Stephens each swatted a pair of hits for MWHS, with starting pitcher Kelsey Keeton (double), Anaiz Mendoza, Victoria Huffman, Tabby Santibanez and Ashley Valdez each recording a hit.
Keeton was the starting pitcher and collected the win, allowing nine runs, but none earned, on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts in five innings.
Stephens finished in the circle, allowing no runs on no hits with two walks and three strikeouts to record a save.
Cooper led 3-1 after the first inning, but thanks in part to Patterson’s first homer, the Lady Rams scored five runs in the bottom of the second to take a 6-3 lead.
Cooper added two runs in the third before MWHS scored three runs in the fourth to extend the lead to 9-5.
In the fifth inning, Cooper took advantage of Lady Rams’ errors and scored five unearned runs in the top of the frame to take back the lead, 10-9.
That set the stage for Patterson’s unlikely home run blast that turned out to be the game winner.