Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
While the rest of Mineral Wells ISD was relaxing on spring break, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams were going to work. In their District 6-3A opener, Tuesday night, at Kessler Field, the Lady Rams demolished the rival Castleberry Lady Lions, 16-2, in just four-and-a-half innings, bringing their season record to a glowing 17-5.
"It's always nice to start out with a win," head coach David Tarver said with a smile.
It's also nice to start out the most important part of your schedule with a dominant win over a rival.
Unlike recent routs, Tuesday's blowout started out a bit rocky for the Lady Rams. Castleberry jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first frame after junior pitcher Allie Stephens hit her second batter and surrendered back-to-back doubles.
But that would be the Lady Lions' first and last offensive outburst, as Stephens settled into a groove and never faced more than four batters in an inning for the rest of the game.
Senior Bethany Allen got the scoring going in the bottom of the first with a single and some fleet-footed base running on multiple errors that brought her home.
Down 2-1, the Lady Rams posted a 1-2-3 top of the second and broke the game open with a seven-run inning.
Addison Singleton got things started with a walk, followed by an Anaiz Mendoza single and a fielding error that put Tabby Santibanez on base and scored Singleton. Allen delivered again with a base clearing double and, after an RBI single from Victoria Huffman, the Lady Rams had scored four runs before their first out.
After two more singles and three-straight walks, the Lady Rams had built an 8-2 lead and batted around their order for the first of two times in the game.
About that time, some major gusts of wind blew into Kessler Field, flinging up large clouds of infield dust and playing heck with balls hit high in the air. But the sudden change of weather would not slow Mineral Wells.
The Lady Rams played small ball and added two more runs in the third, before posting a six-run fourth to close out the game.
It was an outstanding team performance by the Lady Rams on both sides of each inning. Eight out of nine Lady Ram batters registered at least one hit and every single player in the lineup got on base.
"(It was) awesome," said Allen, who split time at shortstop and catcher and went 3-for-4 with two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored. "We all just came together and decided to play. Like Tarver says, we're a team and we don't know how, but we just win."
With 16 runs on the board at the end of the night, Tarver said it was hard to pick one performance that stood out most. He mentioned Allen, Huffman and the other hitters at the top of his lineup, all of whom came away with big games. However, he said the biggest key may have been the production that Singleton, Mendoza and Santibanez delivered out of the seven, eight and nine holes.
"If I was going to pick one thing, I'd say seven, eight and nine all getting on base in front of the top of the order and really sparking that big inning," he said. "That was the biggest boost to momentum we got tonight."
With their first district win under their belts, the Lady Rams will enjoy their own spring break until their next matchup on the road against Lake Worth on Tuesday.
Although Allen was excited about the break, she said she had mixed emotions. But she added that she and her teammates would still be on campus hitting, throwing and working out to stay sharp.
"(The long break) makes me nervous, but I know we'll just come back and be as good as we were today," she said.
Tarver said he is encouraging his girls to take the time to relax and rest so that they can come back in a week refreshed and ready to roll through the rest of the season. After the first chunk of their schedule, Tarver said the Lady Rams have earned some time off.
"After three tournament weekends in a row, six games in each tournament, a little fatigue sets in every once in a while," he said. "This is the first time in 17 years of softball that we're going to take the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of spring break off.
"We'll see how it goes. I've talked to some other coaches that have been doing it a long time. The Iowa Park coach is a good friend of mine and he always does and thinks it's much needed rest for the girls. So, we're going to try it out. Hopefully we come back, Monday, refreshed and excited about softball."
First pitch of the Lake Worth game is set for 7:30 p.m.
For photos and complete game stats, pick up your copy of Thursday's Index