Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
The weather wasn't the only thing heating up, Monday afternoon.
The Mineral Wells Lady Rams (16-5) were simply on fire in both phases of the game as they crushed the Graham Lady Blues, 10-0, in five innings at Kessler Field.
The run-rule performance came a mere two days after a disappointing, mirror-image loss to Lubbock Cooper on a cold Saturday afternoon in Graham, when the Lady Pirates beat Mineral Wells, 10-0, in five innings.
Head coach David Tarver said his team's ability to bounce back is one of their many strengths.
"We go and get beat by Lubbock Cooper, Saturday – it was cold, we just absolutely didn't show up for that game – and 48 hours later it's forgotten," he said. "Good athletes have a short memory."
Against Graham, sophomore pitcher Kelsey Keeton had a no-hitter through four innings – allowing a lone single in the top of the fifth frame. Only two other Blues reached base on her all game on a walk and an error. On offense, Keeton was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
"Kelsey's been solid," Tarver said. "She's been solid ever since she's been here. Nothing fazes her.
"Her and Allie (Stephens) both pitch their game, regardless of the situation. Winning, losing, stress, no stress, it doesn't matter. They approach every pitch exactly the same."
Not only did Keeton get credit for the victory, but also her second shutout in four game dates. The second year varsity pitcher shrugged off her performance like a wily veteran, instead placing her focus on the Lady Rams' home District 6-3A opener against Castleberry, Tuesday night.
"My screwballs were working very well," Keeton said of her one-hit performance against Graham. "I knew I had a good defense behind me, so I wasn't very nervous. It was exciting, but it was just another game."
Keeton began Monday's game in style, with three consecutive strikeouts to get the rout rolling. The Lady Rams' offense then wasted little time in building a 3-0 lead, thanks to singles from Bethany Allen, Hope Patterson and Ashley Valdez and smart base running.
Mineral Wells' entire lineup saw the plate once in the bottom of the first, with each of their first six batters either reaching base or driving in a run.
After Allen took home on a throwing error following her double in the second inning, the Lady Rams put together another three-run inning in the third to make the score 7-0.
Mineral Wells posted a two-run fourth period before Allen put the final nail in the coffin, taking home on a second error in the bottom of the fifth.
It was the perfect way to end the Lady Rams' non-district slate before tonight's 7 p.m. matchup against Castleberry.
With the meat of their season looming, the win has given Tarver and his team reason to be confident, so long as they play with enthusiasm.
"When you ultimately look at it, three of our five loses have almost been a complacent loss," Tarver explained. "Instead of getting beat on the field, we've more gotten mentally beat.
"In one sense, it's good going in knowing that if our girls come out on top of their game, that we're going to step on the field as the better team. We've just got to make sure we step on the field ready to play.
"Going into district, I have all the confidence in the world that we'll be the better team. We've just got to play our game."