By TONY EIERDAM
After sweeping Hillsboro last week in the area playoffs, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams made school history as the first softball team to reach the third round of the playoffs, more commonly known as the regional quarterfinals.
The Lady Rams, however, will face their playoff nemesis, state-ranked No. 6 Burkburnett.
Game one will be at 7:30 p.m. today at Kessler Field on the campus of Mineral Wells High School, with game two at 2 p.m. Saturday at Burkburnett.
Game three, if necessary, will follow game two.
Last year, the Lady Bulldogs, ranked in the Top 10, sent the Lady Rams home in a one-game area championship series with an 7-0 win.
The Lady Rams managed just two hits against pitcher Kylee Trahan, who will be back in the circle again when the two teams meet today.
Trahan, now a junior, struck out 13 batters in last year’s meeting. Earlier this season against Class 5A Keller Timber Creek, Trahan threw a one-hitter and struck out 21 batters.
She also struck out 14 in the Lady Bulldogs’ area-series clinching game against Gatesville.
Despite facing a pitcher that dominated the team last year, Lady Rams head coach David Tarver said this is a new team with a different attitude.
“This (Lady Rams) team worries about one thing ... working hard to win the next game,” he said. “There is no psychological factor (from last year).
“We step on the field and play hard, regardless.”
The regional quarterfinal will also feature the area’s top two home run leaders, both senior catchers.
Mineral Wells slugger Reagan Patterson leads the area with 10 home runs, and Burkburnett’s Paige Daino has swatted eight round trippers.
Burkburnett is looking to make it back to the state tournament for the first time since 2008.
“Burk is always confident,” Tarver said. “They are a successful program that expects to win. They will be ready to play.”
Tarver said he will not name his starting pitcher for game one.
Both freshman Kelsey Keeton and sophomore Allie Stephens pitched in the bi-district and area rounds.
“We have solid pitching,” Tarver said. “The starter will be determined by what puts our best defense on the field at the time.”
Tarver said his team is not intimidated by the Lady Bulldogs, but at the same time realizes Burkburnett is the strongest team the Lady Rams has faced this year.
“To win, we have to be disciplined,” Tarver said. “Disciplined in both the strike zone and against their aggressive offensive tactics.”
While he is also looking ahead only at the next game, Tarver did reflect on the fact that the team made school history last week.
“This has been a memorable year,” he said. “Every win is a great feeling. We have worked extremely hard to become the team that we are this year. It is great when hard work is rewarded.”
Lady Rams have score to settle in regional quarterfinals against No. 6 Burkburnett
By TONY EIERDAM
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