By CLINT FOSTER
It's no secret.
After a 28-10 campaign and a second-straight area championship, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams' 2014 season was simply the best year in Mineral Wells softball history.
Matching their deepest playoff run in school history with an appearance in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals, the District 6-3A runners-up advanced deeper into the playoffs than any other district team, including district champion and one-time second-ranked team in the state Kennedale.
Luckily for the Lady Rams, when it came time to announce District 6-3A's superlatives and all-district honorees, it was clear the district's coaches knew quality when they saw it.
After a vote by league coaches, each of the nine members of the Lady Rams' lineup found a spot on the All-District 6-3A team and Bethany Allen, Hope Patterson and Ashley Valdez claimed three of the district's top awards.
Allen – the Lady Rams' senior shortstop and arguably best player on the team – was tabbed the district's Defensive Player of the Year. Patterson, the junior catcher, took Offensive Player of the Year and sophomore third baseman Ashley Valdez was named Newcomer of the Year.
A Weatherford College signee, Allen was simply a vacuum between second and third base all season. She accounted for 112 putouts, 64 assists and three double plays, en route to a .951 fielding percentage. Her throws to first base were absolute rockets and she was rarely off-target or beaten out by a base runner.
Although the district recognized her for her defensive prowess, she was also a monster at the plate, posting team-highs in batting average (.547), doubles (18), triples (eight), stolen bases (37) and runs scored (76). She also drove in 29 runs from the leadoff spot and only struck out once all season.
Outgoing head coach David Tarver has always spoken highly of the four-year starter.