(2008 - 2009) - Softball

vs. Wren High,

Date: Mar. 30, 2009
Time: 06:00 PM
Location: Mauldin High School

           R  H  E

WHS    2  3  0
MHS    3  6  3
WP: A. Bagwell(6-0)8k's
Hitters:K.Corn 1-2;D.Landers1-3;J.Stovall 2-2,HR;A.Bagwell 1-3; J.Westmoreland 1-3

      After the rains of last week washed out a home contest against
Hillcrest (now rescheduled for Thursday April 16th) and several practices,
The Mauldin Varsity Softball team would host the defending 4A State
Champion Golden Hurricanes from Wren on an overcast but temperate Monday
evening.  This would be a battle between the 2nd and 3rd ranked 4A teams in
the state and a contest for Upstate bragging rights.  This game would pit
a pair of 2008 all state pitchers and summer teammates on the Carolina
Elite, Ashley Bagwell and Stephanie Saylors, against each other and their
respective team' offenses.  Wren was the team that eliminated Mauldin from
the State playoffs 11 months ago in the Upper State Finals in extra innings
when Wren's Marilyn Newman smashed a 2 run homer to rightfield.  Its a new
season but too many returning players from both squads in this game have
strong memories of the epic contests their two teams have had.  Neither
team would take the other lightly - both pitchers know that dangerous
hitters lurk throughout their opponents lineup...and both defenses know
that an error can spell the difference in close games against quality teams
like the two that squared off on Clayton field Monday evening.
       Lady Mav pitching Ace, Ashley Bagwell started the top of the first
with a strikeout to the lady hurricanes leadoff hitter and then watched the
second hitter pop a lazy fly into leftfield where Jenna Westmoreland made
the catch for the second out.  Pitching carefully, Bagwell walked Saylors
on 7 pitches and then induced the Wren cleanup hitter into a groundout to
Mav second baseman Bria Barnhill. Wren's Saylors was equally effective in
the bottom of the first retiring 3 in a row via a flyout, groundout and
strikeout.  In the top of the second, the Wren 3rd baseman and 5th batter
grounded out to Dana Landers at short and Bagwell whiffed the next two to
retire the side and give cause to the spectators (which included two
softball coaches from the University of South Carolina) to wonder whether
they might be watching a pitchers duel shape up.
      In the bottom of the second it was Saylors turn to pitch carefully,
this time to Junior catcher Jordan Stovall.  Trying to get stovall to chase
pitches out of the strike-zone, Saylors fell behind in the count 3-0 as
Stovall wasnt biting... Likely convinced her summer teammate and catcher
wouldn't swing at 3-0, Saylors grooved a fastball down the middle...and paid
for the mis-calculation !  Stovall crushed the pitch over the left
centerfield fence for a solo homer and a one run lead for her team.
Saylors was noticeably bothered and bore down to strike out the next two
Mav hitters. Brooke Barnhill then drew a walk but returned to her defensive
position soon when the next Mauldin hitter flied out in the Wren infield.
      Bagwell retired the lady Hurricanes in order again in the 3rd inning
with two strikeouts and another fly to Westmoreland in left.  Westmoreland
came to the plate and rapped a hit over first base and down the rightfield
line to start the Mauldin 3rd inning.  Mav leadoff hitter Kenzi Corn moved
Westmoreland to second with a crisply bunted sacrifice, but the next two
Mauldin hitters failed top drive in the runner as the Mavs went down
without much noise in the third.  In Wren's half of the fourth, Bagwell
continued to keep the hitters off balance and recorded two quick outs with
help from her shortstop, Sophomore Dana Landers who gunned a runner out on
a grounder and caught an easy fly before Wren Senior centerfielder, Chelsea
Hawkins bounced a line drive into the rightfield fence for a clanging
double.  Hawkins would be stranded a batter later, but had an excellent
view of Mavs second baseman Bria Barnhill's alert play on a tricky
infield-hit ball that was spinning away from the Mavs first baseman when
Barnhill backing up the play corralled the top and beat the runner to first
base to record the final out in the Wren 4th.
      Jordan Stovall led off the Mauldin fourth with her second hit of the
evening - this one a single back up the middle.  Senior Captain Haley
Register followed, going to first after being struck by the 2-2 screwball
when it was released too far inside. Mauldin then showed some offensive
versatility when power hitter Amelia Gillentine laid down a nice sacrifice
bunt to move both Register and pinch-runner, Weslyn Jones into scoring
position and slapper Brooke Barnhill lifted a sacrifice fly to center to
score Jones from third. When the third out was recorded on a flyout to
right, Mauldin had upped its lead to a precarious 2-0 after 4 complete.
      In the top of the 5th, the ladies from Wren looked like they might
answer when Mav-killer Marilyn Newman singled sharply through the 5-6 hole
into left.  Taking a small-ball key from the Mavs, Chelsea Denaroy bunted
to move the runner but both were safe when a force-out attempt was missed
at second base putting two on with no outs.  Another bunt attempt was
popped to Register at third for a first out before Bagwell dug in her heels
and struck out the next two to end the Wren scoring threat.  In Mauldin's
half of the 5th, Kenzi Corn beat out an infield single with one out and
took second when Brianna Davis was unluckily thrown out at first when a
liner glanced off Saylor's glove right to her second baseman, Miranda
Wilson.  Mauldin's RBI leader, Dana Landers, then came to the plate with
two outs and Corn at second. On the second pitch, she delivered an RBI
smash hit up the middle to score Corn who slid safely at the plate while
Landers advanced to second.  Landers stole third a few pitches later with a
headfirst slide before Stovall  battled an 8 pitch count for a base on
balls.  The threat would end with an easy groundout to second, but not
before Mauldin had scored what would prove an important insurance run !
Mauldin 3, Wren 0 after 5 complete.
      In Wren's sixth, Bagwell recorded two quick outs before things looked
like they were unravelling defensively. An infield error put a runner on
first and an errant throw on a pickoff attempt moved the runner to second.
Bagwell then issued a rare walk to the Hurricanes #5 hitter, bringing
Newman to the plate.  Newman lived up to her nickname (Mav Killer) again
when the lefty drove a 1-1 pitch to the right centerfield fence for a
triple that would score two runners.  Amelia Gillentine then corralled a
grounder for an unnassisted third out, but the defending 4A state champions
were back in the game and down by only one with 1 and a half innings to
play.  Momentum may have shifted at this point to the Hurricanes as 4
pitches later two Mauldin hitters had been retired on infield outs.  Ashley
Bagwell smacked a hit up the middle but would head back to the dugout and
mound three pitches later as Saylors recorded her 5th strikeout of the
evening against the Mauldin hitters and bring her team back to the plate
for one last chance to take the lead....But Bagwell and her defense was
having none of it on this night !  No come-from-behind last inning
victories by a visitor to the Lady Mavs home turf !  Successive groundouts
to Mavs captain Haley Register at third and two to second baseman, Bria
Barnhill put a cap on the big win for the Mauldin high Varsity Softballers
3 to 2 in 6 and a half.
      Though not a region win, this one was important to break a "belief
barrier" and establish Mauldin as a 4A team to be reckoned with in the
Upstate.  It was not a beautiful nor dominant  win, but one against a
strong and quality opponent.  Mauldin outhit the Lady Hurricanes 6-3, but
only edged the vistors 5-6 in terms of runners left on base.  Mauldin aided
the Hurricanes with 3 errors and a couple of walks. Wren countered with an
errorless game while Saylors allowed 3 walks.  Mauldin's 3 runs were earned
and wrens 2 were not, but that is evidence to the fact that these games
could, would, and might still pivot on one runner, one hit, one error, or
one great play. Wren is an experienced team laden with upper classmen and
Saylors is probably the best pitcher the Lady Mavs have faced in the 2009
season to date.  A rematch will be held at Wren on April 13th, but no one
should be surprised if the 2009 rubber match is held in early May during
the playoffs.
      Next up for the undefeated Lady Mavs is the Lady Falcons of Nations
Ford.  The speedy and athletic team from Fort Mill visits Mauldin on
Thursday starting at 7:00 pm after a Junior Varsity contest. Come
support your Lady Mavs as they try to remain unbeaten and prepare for next
week's Azalea tournament in Summerville.