Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
LAKE WORTH – It ain't a bad way to knock the rust off.
In their first game back from a six-day, spring break hiatus, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams (18-5) rolled over the Lake Worth Lady Frogs on the road, Tuesday night, with a 13-1 win in five innings to improve to 2-0 in District 6-3A play.
But like any great head coach, David Tarver didn't see a game without fault. Although he was happy to win, he said there were a few things his girls need to improve on before they get into one of the tougher parts of their schedule next week.
"I'm very pleased with a 13-1 win and going home 2-0 in district," he said. "Defensively, we were pretty sharp. But offensively, we weren't.
"(Bethany Allen) was hitting the ball pretty square tonight, but others were out in front of the ball a little bit. It's always hard to wait on a slow pitcher. It took us a little while to adjust and then those balls started turning into bloopers and ground balls through the infield.
"We didn't play on the top of our game, but we came away with a 13-1 win and you've got to be proud of that."
It may be time for March Madness, but it was not as if Lake Worth had a realistic upset bid. The Lady Rams jumped ahead quickly and didn't give the Lady Frogs much chance to breathe with their suffocating defense and pitching.
Senior Bethany Allen got things started, as she often does, with a leadoff triple followed by a trademark walk from outfielder Victoria Huffman out of the two-hole. Catcher Hope Patterson scored Allen on an RBI ground out and Huffman made it home before the final out thanks to a planned rundown executed by Allie Stephens after a walk.
The Lady Rams posted a four-run second inning as Addison Singleton, Allen and Huffman each posted RBI base hits – Allen's was a two-RBI double.
The only speed bump on the way to the Lady Rams' rout was a mid-game lull in the third and fourth frames that yielded only one run to both Mineral Wells and Lake Worth.
The Lady Frogs' run came courtesy of two errors that marred an otherwise stellar performance by sophomore pitcher Kelsey Keeton and her defense. After a Lady Frog reached base on a two-out error, she was able to scamper home on an errant throw to second base when a Lake Worth hitter who had just hit a single attempted to steal second.
"I attribute that to just a little bit of spring break rust," Tarver said of the fourth inning miscues. "That first and third situation with two outs, we like. We've got two catchers with good arms and we want to take (the runners) out if they try to take a base on us. We didn't connect tonight, but we'll work on that again next time we get the opportunity."
With the error behind them, Mineral Wells broke the game open with a six-run sixth. Ashley Valdez, Singleton, Tabby Santibanez, Keeton and Stephens all registered hits in the inning with Singleton, Huffman, Keeton and Stephens all posting RBIs.
In all, five Lady Rams finished the game with at least two RBIs. Top performers included Singleton, who finished 2-for-3 on the night with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Ashley Valdez, who was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and two runs.
Allen shined as well, as usual, finishing 2-for-4, including reaching base twice on errors and scoring four runs. Her two-RBI double in the second was inches away from her elusive first home run of the season.
Through 23 games, she has posted a .628 batting average with no signs of slowing down.
Keeton's one-unearned-run victory brings her season record to 12-2 with an outstanding 2.06 ERA. She fanned six batters in Lake Worth, bringing her strikeout total to 61 – second on the team behind Stephens' 74 strikeouts.
Tarver said his team is confident heading into their upcoming home matchup with Diamond Hill-Jarvis. He said having three manageable games to start out the district slate is invaluable to the Lady Rams before they ramp things up a notch against Springtown and Kennedale, next week.
"We knew coming in this week that we'd have a couple of games before we got to the meat of our schedule," he said. "I'm not real worried about the little mistakes. They're going to happen every once in a while. We just have to take every opportunity we can get to try and work on those situations.
"Diamond Hill's pitcher throws a little faster but doesn't move the ball much. Hopefully that'll be a good batting practice game."
First pitch of the Diamond Hill game is set for 7:30 p.m., Friday, at Kessler Field on the campus of Mineral Wells High School.