(2008 - 2009) - Softball

vs. Hillcrest High,

Date: Apr. 24, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM
Location: Hillcrest High School

Friday, April 24th: MHS 1 vs  Hillcrest HS 6

   R  H  E

MHS  1  5  6
HHS  6  10 2
Hitters:K.Corn 1-4,3b;B.Davis 1-3;
J.Stovall 1-3;H.Register 2-3 

      Maybe the less said the better, but on Friday night, the Lady Rams of
Hillcrest proved that they wanted to win more than the Lady Mavs of
Mauldin.   Granted, Hillcrest had more at stake and to prove.  Mauldin had
already clinched the Region title and a #1 seeding in the Upper state
playoffs.  With a win, Hillcrest could tie Byrnes for 2nd place in the
standings and force a tiebreaker scenario.
      In the top of the first, Mauldin went down quickly and in order with
a groundout, a strikeout, and a flyout.  It was only a little better in the
top of the second, when Senior captain Haley Register punched a hit through
the middle between a strikeout, a flyout, and a lineout.  Meanwhile in the
bottom halves of the innings, Hillcrest was threatening to score every
inning.  The speedy Hillcrest team put pressure on the mauldin defense and
pitching staff  early and often.  in the bottom of the first Mauldin opened
the door with an error at first base put trackster Sylver Samuel on board.
She was sacrificed to second before Mauldin Ace, Ashley Bagwell retired the
meat of the Hillcrest order with back to back strikeouts.  The bottom of
the second would prove a different and telling story ...  The Rams catcher
led off with a hit to left and advanced to second on a passed ball.  After
a strikeout, the Rams #8 hitter battled through a 10 pitch at-bat and sent
a single through the 5-6 hole and took second on the throw home, preventing
a run.  Hillcrest's Taylor Dales-Clamp then squeezed the Rams first run
home and reached first safely on the play.  Dales-Clamp then stole second
and Samuel squeezed home another run when the throw hit the runner and was
mishandled at the plate.  Mauldin Catcher, Jordan Stovall recovered and
alertly threw to second base to catch the speedy Samuel in no man's land.
Kenzi Corn was covering the base and threw to Dana Landers at third for the
second out.  When yet another Hillcrest slapper bunted safely past a
surprised Mauldin third baseman, the rams had posted a 3-0 lead.  It got
worse when Hillcrest's Morgan Durham drove an RBI double into right
centerfield.  A nice relay from Brooke Barnhill to Dana Landers, to Haley
Register nailed Durham trying to stretch her hit into a triple.  That play
ended Hillcrests rally but not before the rams had posted a 4-0 lead on the
scoreboard against their Arch-Rivals from Mauldin.
      Mauldin did not respond well to the deficit with their bats in the
top of the third.  The first two Lady Mavs struck out against Hillcrest
freshman Courtney Roberts.  Kenzi Corn reached on a rare Ram error and
Brianna Davis followed with a first pitch hit to left, but the rally did
not develop further as Mauldin's third hitter suffered a rare strikeout and
missed an opportunity to put a dent in the lady Rams early lead.  Bagwell
looked in better form in the third inning when she struck out two and left
a runner, who reached on an error and was sacrificed over, stranded on the
second sack.  In Hillcrest's fourth inning Bagwell made a play to first for
the first out, struck out a second for the second. After a double by the
speedy Ram centerfielder, Samuel, the side was retired on a play from
Landers to Gillentine.  In Mauldin's fourth and fifth, a couple more
opportunities to get back into striking distance were lost. Junior catcher
Jordan Stovall led off the 4th with a single and was followed by a bouncing
single from Senior Haley Register. A passed ball allowed courtesy runner
Weslyn Jones and Register to move to third and second respectively with no
outs. This rally too fizzled as the next three batters went down in order
on two fly ball outs to first base and a strikeout.  In the Mauldin 5th,
Senior leftfielder Jena Westmoreland battled deep into the count, broke a
field light on the backstop, and earned a walk. As the next two batters
took turns flying out to centerfield, Westmoreland stole second base, but
was stranded when the next batter struck out.  Mauldin was running out of
innings and blowing chances to even the score.
      Hillcrest pressure did not relent.  After a flyout to lead off the
bottom of the fifth,  Hillcrest's Hannah Swoap hit a single into right
center that was misplayed into a double.  Bagwell beaned  the next batter
and watched helplessly as an error on a dribbling ball to the right side
put a third runner on base and allowed another run to score.  after a foul
tip pop-up was caught by Stovall for the second out, a bounder up the
middle brought home Hillcrest's 6th run of the night.  Kenzi Corn then made
a nice catch of a line drive at her knees to retire the side.  Hillcrest 6
- Maudlin 0.
      Mauldin went far too quietly and quickly in the 6th as well - three
up, three batted balls caught, and the three were down and back into their
defensive positions for the Rams 6th thinking of the one last chance they
would have. In Hillcrest's 6th, Bagwell struck out three, sandwiching a
harmless single to Durham.  But the Lady Mavs showed no early fire in their
7th inning than they had all game in front of the raucous Hillcrest crowd.
A groundout to third led it off, but Lady Ram miscommunication led to a
dropped pop-fly and lady Mav Brooke Barnhill was on first.  Westmoreland
grounded to third, but had to be credited with a fielders choice when
Barnhill was questionably called out on the third basemans throw to second.
Kenzi Corn then made the game's lone contribution to the highlight reel
when she smacked a triple past the leftfielder for a triple that scored
Westmoreland.  A flyout to second ended the short rally and the game for
the lady Mavs as they suffered their first and only Region loss at the
hands of Hillcrest 6-1.
      It was painful but deserved.  Hillcrest again played well enough to
win and did this time. The Lady Mavs played with what appeared to be a
combination of pressing nerves from some ladies and lack of enthusiasm and
focus by others.  Hillcrest played like a team on a mission and like the
team that wanted this win more.  Although Hillcrest and Mauldin each left 7
runners stranded on base, Hillcrest doubled the Lady Mavs hit output in
this game 10-5.  This has not been the case in any game this year by the
Lady Mavs, so credit Miss Roberts and her Ram teammates for a game well
played - they forced the small-ball action on their offensive terms, and
limited the potential damages the usually powerful Lady Mavs offense
typically inflicts. Roberts almost matched Bagwell's strikeouts in the game
9 (a new high for the Lady Mavs in a single game) to 10.
      Ugly as it was, the game's meaning was somewhere between cosmetic and
symbolic for the Lady Mavs.  In spite of the loss, the Mauldin Varsity
Softballers are the undisputed and clear region champs, are still ranked as
the state's top team, and will be seeded first in the upstate playoffs, in
whose first round they will face Westside at home on Thursday April 30th
after a rainout makeup game against Region 1 repeating  and reigning state
4A champs, the Wren golden Hurricanes....at Wren Monday at 6:00 pm.  This
will be a good test of the Lady Mavs resilience, fortitude, and readiness
for the playoff drive !  A quality team on the road after a disappointing
loss...a team that Mauldin has beaten earlier this season !  Its a good
test and yardstick - a game that the Lady Mavs can, should, and need to win
to take momentum into the playoffs with them !  The lady Mavs are closing
in on a second consecutive 20 win season.   The Hillcrest loss is a bump in
the road, but nothing more - their main goal is still within reach.  Come
support the Lady Mavs at Wren Monday evening and at home in the first round
of the playoffs Thursday.  Lets watch them battle to make their dreams come
true - Go Mavs !