By CLINT FOSTER
FORT WORTH – The Mineral Wells Lady Rams (23-6, 7-1) took another step toward achieving their ultimate goals this season with an 18-1 shellacking of Diamond Hill-Jarvis to officially clinch a playoff berth, Friday, on the north side of Fort Worth.
The win came in a quick three innings, but the Lady Rams were still able to use some game time to test the waters with different strategies and substitutions in different situations. Head coach David Tarver felt the results were mixed, overall.
"A win's a win," he said. "We were sharp most of the game. That last inning was a little rough, but it allowed us to work on some different stuff in different situations.
"You take every opportunity to work things out in games when they don't matter anymore. We use everything we can as a learning experience to know that when we're in a big game, in crunch time, what we have as options.
"I would have liked to see it end a little cleaner, but you work on things and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The more you know going forward, the better you do in the playoffs."
Behind a solid pitching performance from Allie Stephens, the Lady Rams roared to an early lead with innings of four, eight and six runs. Stephens was on her game, tossing two strikeouts to two hits through the first two innings, but started to lose her command a tad in the game's final half inning.
After starting the bottom of the third with a strikeout, a batter reached on an error and, after a fielder's choice, Stephens would walk the next two batters and score one on a wild pitch. She hit another batter before senior Bethany Allen – who was starting her second straight game at catcher – threw out a runner at third to end the game.