Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
After finishing the first day of the Mineral Wells Tournament a perfect 3-0, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams (15-4) were back in action Friday with a double-header to close out the home portion of the tourney.
The Lady Rams battled strong, gusting winds to split their day two games, 1-1. However, Mineral Wells ended on a high note, walloping District 6-3A rivals Springtown, 11-3, in a game that was called after the fourth inning.
The Lady Rams opened the day against Brownwood at noon in what would be their toughest game of the tournament. The Lady Lions jumped out to an early lead they would not surrender as they handed the Lady Rams their first loss of the tournament, 9-7, despite a valiant comeback attempt from the home team.
Brownwood jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but the Lady Rams quickly answered, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Hope Patterson and an RBI double from Allie Stephens.
The next three innings would be a stalemate, as the Lady Rams' defense largely shut down the Lady Lions behind Kelsey Keeton's pitching and the Mineral Wells bats failed to take advantage of opportunities.
The deadlock was broken in the fifth inning, when Brownwood rattled off three straight hits. Despite four total hits in the inning, the Lady Rams limited Brownwood to just one run, making the score 4-2, in favor of the Lady Lions.
In the bottom of the fifth, senior Bethany Allen – who played catcher in the first game of the day – lifted her team with a leadoff triple. Thanks to a sacrifice fly from Keeton, Allen tagged up and scored to cut Brownwood's lead to one, yet again.
In the sixth, both offenses caught fire. Brownwood started things off, stringing together seven-straight hits to extend their lead to 8-3.
Not to be outdone, the Lady Rams registered seven hits in the bottom of the inning, five of which went back-to-back, to make the score 8-7.
Brownwood extended their lead to 9-7 on a two-out RBI double in the top of the seventh. But the Lady Rams didn't quite have enough late-game magic left in them to complete the rally.
It didn't take the Lady Rams long to get over the Brownwood loss, as Mineral Wells stomped their District 6-3A rivals Springtown, 11-3 in four innings, to finish the day and the home stand.
Mineral Wells wasted no time exorcising their Brownwood demons, blasting four hits and three runs before the game's first out. The Lady Rams continued to build their lead with timely hitting and took an 11-0 lead into the bottom of the third.
Stephens had pitched a shutout through the first two and one-third innings, but Springtown prevented the goose egg with a bas-clearing double to make the score 11-3.
Springtown forfeited the game after Stephens caught a line drive in the bottom of the fourth and threw out the runner at first for a game ending double play.
Head coach David Tarver said it was great to end the day on a positive note.
"Day two was a good/bad day," he said. "You hate losing a game, but we finished the day at 15-4 and the game we lost was one of those back-and-forth games.
"I don't ever like losing, but it's good learning from those mistakes before you get into district. As an athlete, you understand that things just don't always go your way. You have to keep that positive outlook. They showed they were a quality team, being able to shake that loss off and come back two hours later and put 11 runs on the board in four innings."
Mineral Wells had many superlative players in the second day of the Mineral Wells Tournament, but few stood out more than Allen. Switching between catcher and shortstop, Allen was a force in both halves of each inning.
"(I'm getting) everything she's got," Tarver said. "Pretty much, she's going to get on base and she's going to score and everyone expects that. She's automatic offense most of the time and it's nice having that at the top of your lineup."
The Lady Rams closed out the three-day swing with a trip to Graham to play Lubbock Cooper. They return home to Mineral Wells, Monday, for an afternoon contest against the Graham Lady Blues.
District 6-3A play begins the following day with a home game against Castleberry under the Tuesday night lights.
But Tarver said the Lady Rams only have one thing on their minds:
"Win the next game," he said. "That's it. That's been our mentality the last two years. We don't look ahead to what's next."