By TONY EIERDAM
Mineral Wells Lady Rams head softball coach David Tarver is not afraid to play freshmen.
Two years ago his Lady Rams won a district championship by starting a pair of freshmen, and Tuesday night in the Lady Rams’ 7-6 comeback win over Brownwood, freshman Kelsey Keeton played a significant role.
Not only did Keeton pitch two shutout innings and collect the win in relief, but she also helped in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning when her ground ball to third base with the bases loaded and no outs turned into an error as senior catcher Reagan Patterson scored to give the Lady Rams a walk-off, one-run win Tuesday night at Kessler Field.
The victory raises the Lady Rams’ overall record to 12-5-1.
The Lady Rams trailed 6-2 before scoring five unanswered runs in the last three innings.
“This was a big win,” Tarver said. “Coming into the game, we hoped we were good enough to beat a team like Brownwood, and coming back to win like that certainly gives us more confidence.
“But it was a team win. Allie (Stephens) didn’t have much luck but still pitched well, and Kelsey came in and gave them a different look.
“The top of the (batting) order came through in the seventh, but we also had a lot of help from the bottom of the order. Tabby Santibanez, hitting from the ninth spot in the order, started us off in the (three-run) fifth with a base hit. In fact, there were several in different players in the order who came up big for us.”
Trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Santibanez, starting at second base while regular starter Chandler Ortiz mends a bruised rib, ripped a base hit to left field.
The next batter, all-state shortstop Bethany Allen, reached on an infield hit – her second of a team-leading three hits – to put runners at first and second.
Two batters later, Santibanez scored on a single to right field by sophomore third baseman Hope Patterson.
With runners at second and third, Tarver called a squeeze bunt for Stephens, and she placed a perfect bunt down that plated Allen to cut the Lady Lions’ lead to 6-4.
MWHS added another run in the frame to cut the lead to 6-5 when Keeton drove in Hope Patterson on a sacrifice fly to center field.
Tarver switched to Keeton in the circle in the sixth, and she sent the Lady Lions down in order.
However, Brownwood pitcher Sydney Laws kept the Lady Rams at bay by striking out three consecutive batters in the bottom of the sixth as Brownwood clung to a one-run lead.
Keeton allowed a hit in the top of the seventh, but got out of the inning to allow her team one last chance to tie or win the game.
Brownwood’s chances at winning, however, did not look good as MWHS would bring the top of the order to the plate in the seventh.
Allen and Reagan Patterson each swatted a single before Hope Patterson drove in Allen with a bloop single to right field that bounced safely off the Lady Lions’ right-fielder’s glove.
With runners at second and third and no outs, Tarver tried to win the game by once again calling on Stephens to execute a squeeze bunt. The sophomore laid down a perfect bunt, but there was no throw on the play as Stephens reached to load the bases.
Keeton followed and hit a ground ball to the Lady Lions’ third baseman, but her throw home in an attempt to force out Reagan Patterson sailed over the catcher’s head as Patterson touched the plate to win the game.
“We had contributions from everybody, and that’s what you need to beat a team like Brownwood,” Tarver said. “Brownwood got some early breaks, and we got some breaks at the end.”
Tarver said Stephens threw well despite the no decision. Stephens allowed four earned runs on nine hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in five innings.
“Allie was a pitcher of misfortune,” he said. “Whether it was a lucky bounce or us committing an error here or there, we put her in a bad position at times.
“Allie threw well, was consistent with her pitches, and what I liked best was she was throwing her change up for strikes. That’s hard to do this early in the season.”
Keeton allowed a hit, a walk and recorded a strikeout in two innings.
“Kelsey moved the ball around well and was consistent,” Tarver said. “She threw strikes and forced Brownwood to put the ball in play.”
Brownwood scored two runs in the top of the first frame. MWHS got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first when Keeton drove in Allen with a single to right field.
The Lady Rams tied the game at 2-2 in the second when center fielder Makayla Nance singled and later scored on a base hit from Allen.
Brownwood scored three runs in the third and added a run in the fourth to take a four-run lead.
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
Swimming to State
KELLER – The Mineral Wells Water Moccasins are heading to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation's state meet in College Station, July 31-Aug. 3, after an outstanding performance in the Region 4 Championships that saw seven local swimmer qualify.
Mineral Wells summer track sends 11 to state meet after strong regionals
THE COLONY – The future continues to look bright for Mineral Wells track and field, as 11 members of legendary head coach Jackie Harvey's summer track club punched their tickets to the TAAF state meet in College Station – to be held July 31-Aug. 3 – after a dominant showing at the regional meet in The Colony, July 18-19.
FWIW: Good, clean hate – Ranking the area's best rivalry games of the 2014 football season
By CLINT FOSTER
Football season is fast approaching and with it those glorious games between teams that love to hate each other, which we call rivalries.
I'm speaking, of course, about sports hate – the only beautiful kind. It's the stuff built on history and tradition that inspires simply the fiercest and most entertaining games of every season.
Palo Pinto County and the surrounding area have no shortage of fierce football rivalries.
The University Interscholastic League's realignment often causes new rivalries to be born and old ones to be rekindled. But which rivalries are the area's very best for 2014? The one's you circle your calendar for and make sure you don't miss.
I can think of at least 10.
So, for what it's worth, here's my list of the area's best, can't-miss football rivalries of the upcoming 2014 season.
Local Bowlers Roundup set for first weekend of August
Mineral Wells Women's Bowling Alliance invites you to join them Aug. 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Mountaineer Lanes for their second annual Bowlers Roundup. The event will feature snacks, tips from the pros, information on league bowling and two hours of great exercise.
Something in the water
Mineral Wells is well known as the home of Crazy Water, and by all accounts the city's swim team went absolutely berserk in their one and only home meet of the summer on Saturday.
Throughout the summer, the Mineral Wells Rams have been hard at work preparing for football season.
Hooks and Slices 7/11
In the Holiday Hills Country Club Guys and Dolls tournament, locals Denny and Sherry Hall turned in rounds of 77 and 73 to take first place in the opening round and second place on Sunday in the fourth flight. George and Linda Hutton turned in two solid rounds to place both days. The twosome shot 71 and 72 to take first place on Saturday and second place on Sunday in the second flight.
GRAPEVINE – The Mineral Wells High School cheerleaders attended the Universal Cheerleaders' Association's cheer camp in Grapevine two weeks ago and proved that spirit will definitely be high at every Rams and Lady Rams sporting event this coming school year.
Millsap selects Lee as new head volleyball coach
MILLSAP – The board of trustees at Millsap ISD recently announced their hire of Denise Lee as the new head volleyball coach for Millsap High School.
Waldrum leads the way in MW's latest swim meet
TROPHY CLUB – The Mineral Wells Water Moccasins city swim team took to the pool once again June 28 and showed valiant effort against some tough competition at its latest meet in Trophy Club.
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- Swimming to State