Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
KENNEDALE – Despite a fast start, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams (20-6, 4-1) fell short against the Kennedale Lady Kats, 8-3, Friday night, in a battle of unbeatens for first place in District 6-3A at the midway point of the league season.
The Lady Kats largely stymied the prolific Lady Rams' bats and snapped Mineral Wells' five-game winning streak.
“It was another learning experience," head coach David Tarver said of the loss. "We definitely came out to compete and win. They hit the ball and did what we know they’re always going to do. We kind of lost our identity at the plate a little bit in the middle frames. Everything else was positive. It was a good, hard-played game."
What hurt the Lady Rams the most wast Kennedale's pitching. Mineral Wells was in the precarious position of facing a pitcher they had never seen before – as she was injured for the entire district slate last season – and it allowed the Lady Kats to get the best of them.
Kennedale's pitcher had a screw ball working and a riser that would jump above the strike zone that the Lady Rams chased for much of the game.
It wasn't until the sixth inning that the Lady Rams really settled in and figured her out, but by then it was too late to mount a sizable enough comeback.
"That's the game we should have played all game long," Tarver said of the way his offense looked in the late frames. "She's a good pitcher.
"When we come back in that last round of district, that whole week will be dedicated to her riser and staying off of it and bringer her down into the strikezone. When we did that, we hit the ball well. We’ll be ready for it next time."
The brightest spot for the Lady Rams was the first inning. After Victoria Huffman reached first on a walk, Hope Patterson blasted a two-run homer over the right field fence to put Mineral Wells up, 2-0, early.
It was the fifth time for Patterson to go yard this season and, finishing 2-for-3 on the day, it helped bring her batting average up to .557 – good for second on the team behind Bethany Allen's staggering .614 mark.
The top of the first would be the only time Mineral Wells would lead, as Kennedale rattled off a three-run bottom of the first and three more runs throughout the ensuing four frames while holding the Lady Rams scoreless.
As painful as the loss was for a squad with high expectations, the Lady Rams are down, but not out by any stretch of the imagination.
Now, sitting at second place in District 6-3A, the Lady Rams will get a day off for testing before they prepare for a road trip to Fort Worth to face Castleberry, whom the Lady Rams crushed, 16-2, to open their district slate earlier this month.
Tarver said the focus for the rest of the season is clear:
"If we take care of the other four teams in district, we’ll come back and play (Kennedale) for a district championship on our field," he said. "Be ready for it."
First pitch of the Castleberry game is set for 7:30 p.m., April 4, in Fort Worth.