By CLINT FOSTER
The Lady Rams wanted this one. Bad.
But despite a brilliant defensive effort that kept the game locked at 1-0 until the final frame, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams found themselves so close, yet so far away from a district championship, falling to the second-ranked team in the state, the Kennedale Wildcats, for the second time this year, 3-0, Friday night.
The loss officially crowned the Lady Rams (23-7, 8-2) as the District 6-3A runner-up, and gave the girls the sourest of tastes in their mouths heading into the Class 3A playoffs, which are set to begin in just over a week.
"We gave ourselves a chance," head coach David Tarver said. "We talked about, coming in, playing for a share of the district championship and we gave ourselves a chance. We competed.
"They earned that first run, the second set of runs we gave them. But those things happen. We'll move forward. It's unfortunate to end that way, but whether a 1-0 loss, a 3-0 loss and 99-0 loss, it's still a loss.
"The good thing is we're healthy. That taste will stay in our mouths for a little while and give us that extra motivation next week to practice hard and get after it in the first round [of the playoffs]."
It was a frustrating loss on senior night for a Lady Rams team that did so much right.
Junior Allie Stephens was at her best, pitching much better than her stats would indicate. The final stat line of her complete game would read three runs – two earned – on eight hits and four walks, but Stephens and the defense behind her kept the Lady Rams in the game 'til the very end.
Even so, Stephens' effort was not enough to will her team to victory and she fell to 10-4 on the season.