Mineral Wells Index
By TONY EIERDAM
Mineral Wells High School softball and baseball teams are in good shape as they both enter the second half of District 6-3A play.
Although both lost to Kennedale a little more than a week ago, both can still at least clinch a share of the district championship by winning out.
Game one of the second half of both the softball and baseball seasons are today.
The Lady Rams will face Castleberry at approximately 7:30 p.m. at Kessler Field, while next door at Pratt Field the Rams will face Castleberry, also at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Rams are coming off a 4-1 loss to state-ranked No. 3 Kennedale.
But both teams cam into the contest with identical 4-0 records as MWHS trailed the Lady Kats in the standing by only one game.
Lady Rams head coach David Tarver doesn’t necessarily want his team to look ahead at the April 19 game at Kennedale, but he has told his team if they repeat their success in the first round that a title game will be in the team’s future.
“Regardless of what happened (against Kennedale), if we take care of business through district like we did in the first half of district we will be playing them in Game 10 for a district championship,” Tarver said. “We lost (to Kennedale) so it will be for a co-district championship.
“You don’t want to split it – you want to win it outright – but now we have a split in front of us and that is our goal.”
The Lady Rams have been getting solid hitting up and down the lineup. Senior catcher Reagan Patterson has seven home runs, and lead-off hitter Bethany Allen seems to be hitting her groove.
Hope Patterson is still one of the most feared clean-up hitters in the area, and although her home runs totals do not lead the team she is still driving in her share of runs.
Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the pitching of freshman Kelsey Keeton, who has a 4-1 district record and held Kennedale to its lowest scoring output in league play.
“Kelsey is not intimidated at all,” Tarver said. “She has played a lot of softball in her life and has probably played in tougher situations.
“Kelsey has been doing a good job of hitting her spots and moving the ball well. She did not throw a flat pitch against Kennedale, and she is doing a good, consistent job of working the corners and making the batters guess where she was going to pitch the ball.
“She does a good job of mixing it up and keeping the batters off balance.”
The Rams are coming off a 3-1 loss to state-ranked No. 10 Kennedale, and head coach Bret Barrick feels the team is improving at the plate.
“I feel we are seeing the ball at the plate and making contact better as hitter than we have at any point of this season,” Barrick said. “If we can square it up just a little bit more and get more on those balls and some of the outs we have been making would fall in for base hits instead of pop flies.”
In the past two years – both playoff-qualifying seasons – the Rams have started out slow but have reached a “peak” at about this time of the season.
Barrick said he is still waiting for the 2013 Rams to peak, but adds that might not be such a bad thing.
“We haven’t peaked yet, and that may be a good thing,” he said. “We don’t want to play the first half of district as good as we can play and not maintain that or improve in the second half of district.
“We want to continue to get better in these next five ball games, and we have an opportunity to do that. We have made the playoffs the last two years, and something we have concentrated on is working harder to get better every day.
“We talk about not staying the same and doing everything possible to get better as the season rolls along. If we do that, at the end of the season we will be hitting our stride.”
Barrick said he saw good signs in the loss to Kennedale, which was also senior lefty Matt “Moose” Tincher’s first loss of the season.
Tincher will start on the hill today against Castleberry, according to Barrick.
“We are getting there,” Barrick said. “Despite losing to Kennedale last Thursday we are getting there. I thought we played good defense against Kennedale, and our defense is an area that has improved as the season has progressed.
“The difference in the Kennedale game was that they got a couple of breaks and took advantage of those breaks.
“It was 1-1 in the sixth inning, they got a couple of runs, but we had chances but could get the runners home (late in the game).
“I am proud of the kids and I think they are hitting their stride.
“If we improve and continue to play like we have been playing, I don’t have any doubt that the last game in district will be us and Kennedale and we will see if we can earn a share of a district championship.”