By CLINT FOSTER
It took a sixth inning rally to do it, but the Mineral Wells Lady Rams (25-7) earned their first victory of the playoffs, Thursday night at Kessler Field, beating the emotionally-charged Graham Lady Blues, 10-7, to go up 1-0 in a best-of-three series.
Graham played inspired softball – in honor of second baseman Candice Martin who died in a car accident last week – and forced the Lady Rams into a back-and-forth ball game. But, as has become their trademark this season, the Lady Rams never quit and rode a six-run sixth inning to rally from down two and secure the victory at home.
Head coach David Tarver had to pull a few moves out of his bag of tricks, switching pitchers in the fifth inning and swapping multiple position players throughout the game. But in the end, he said he was pleased with the way his girls responded to adversity.
"We had many opportunities to just accept what was going bad at the time," he said. "We made more than our fair share of mistakes, but were able to stay positive and keep working. I had to remind them at one point that this is a game that we love. Our girls are unmistakably better when they're having fun playing the game that they're good at.
"[The sixth-inning rally] is characteristic of this team. Sometimes we're on our game and everything's clicking and sometimes, like tonight, it's a struggle.
"That's the way sports are. It doesn't always work out your way. But these girls did what they do: they stayed positive.
"[The sixth inning] was a key point in the game for us and we executed. This is one of those teams that once they get it going, all that positive energy and emotion just rolls. I never doubt at any moment with this team that they can put an inning together and win a game."