Mavs 4 Woodmont 0

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STORCH,  LANDERS,  DAVIS  &  TRACEY  LEAD  LADY  MAVS  TO
PLAYOFF  WIN

      On a beautiful evening the day after Tornados ravaged Tuscaloosa,
Alabama and brushed the foothills of Western South Carolina,  The Region 2
Champion Mauldin Varsity Softball team opened the SCHSL 4A District
Playoffs at home against Region 1 fourth place finisher, the Woodmont
Wildcats.
      The Lady Mavs freshman Ace, Amanda Storch took the circle after
introductions and the national anthem and sat the top of the Lady Cats
batting order down sequentially on three ground balls to the Mauldin
infield in the top of the 1st.  She did the same to the middle of the
Woodmont order in the second with a strikeout and two fly outs to her
Captain and shortstop, Dana Landers.  In the top of the third, the bottom
of the visitors order struck out twice and popped up to Brianna Davis at
third base as Storch pitched perfectly through three innings.
      On the offensive side of the ball, The Lady Mavs started hot and
fizzled.  Junior Bria Barnhill got things started in the bottom of the
first frame with a base on balls, then took second base on a passed ball.
Sophomore Brianna Davis chased Barnhill across the plate with a line drive
single into the verdant grass just right of centerfield.  Senior Dana
Landers singled into right-center also and the lady Mavs had two on with no
outs, but Woodmont pitcher  Baylea McCuen stiffened and struck out the next
three to retire the Lady Mavs and escape with only a single run deficit to
the defending 4A State Champions.  The bottom of the second inning also
began with a walk to Mauldin's first batter, as Freshman Emma Swearingen
trotted to first base after seeing no pitches to her liking.  Swearingen
stole second base a couple of pitches later, sliding into the bag well
ahead of the tag.  A strikeout and a pop-out to the McCuen followed.  On
the latter play,  McCuen wheeled and threw to the second sack to double
Swearingen off for the third out.  In Mauldin's bottom of the third,
Landers scorched a two out single up the middle , took second on a passed
ball, and moved to third on an infield single by Freshman Deanna Sullivan.
But in what would become a disappointing theme on this night, the two were
left on base unrequited on a groundout to second base that notched the
third out.
      With the score still 1-0 in favor of the top ranked and seeded
Mauldin team,  Woodmont sent the top of their order to the plate to try and
solve Miss Storch and her batterymate, Kaitlyn Wagers who calls the pitches
and locations for the accomplished Freshman hurler.  Storch and Wagers
struck out the leadoff batter and then gave up a bloop hit next to the foul
line in short left field for what would prove to be the only hit of the
night off of Storch.  The Woodmont catcher, Maddie Styles, didnt get far
past first. McCuen grounded to Landers at short, who flipped to Junior Bria
Barnhill at second to force Styles out at second.  The attempted double
play throw was not in time to get the batter at first, but the next hitter
grounded weakly back to Storch in the pitcher's circle, who threw to
Sophomore Madison Tracey at first to end the only offensive threat the Lady
Cats would mount in this opening round game of the District 2 Playoff
Tournament.
      In Mauldin's half of the 4th,  Taylor Scott singled to rightfield to
lead things off.  An out later, Maddie Tracey smashed a single into
left-center to move Scott to third.  Again with two runners on base,
Mauldin failed to convert them to scores as the next two Maverick batters
were retired on infield outs.  Woodmont's 5th and 6th innings were even
less productive.  Storch and Wagers earned another strikeout and the
Mauldin infielders (Brianna Davis, Dana Landers, Bria Barnhill, and Madison
Tracey) continued to play errorlessly (and in several instances,
spectacularly) in booking the other 5 outs over the two late offensive
frames.
      Mauldin added a run in the bottom of the 5th.  With one out, Landers
drove a rope into right centerfield for her third hit of the game.
Sullivan followed with another of her team-leading 14 walks on the season.
A flyout to leftfield had the near-capacity crowd bemoaning the need for
clutch hitting  with runners in scoring position.  With two outs and two
on, Coach Joseph Terry went to his bench and sent Nikki Smith to the plate
in the pressure situation.  Smith delivered a sweet  topspinning RBI single
to left that scored Landers, who after hustling from second and around
third, slid into the plate four feet ahead of the throw and tag to score
Mauldin's second run.  A pop-up to short ended the brief rally and 5th
inning, and again left two more baserunners on the diamond's basepaths, but
Mauldin's lead was now two runs over Woodmont.  Two runs is not the size
margin the Mauldin faithful became accustomed from the beginning of this
surprisingly successful season, but it was very likely adequate with Storch
and Wagers doing such an excellent job between the circle and the boxes as
they were on this Thursday night.
      In the bottom of the 6th inning, Mauldin would finally produce the
kind of rally their fans could get excited about.  Madison Tracey led off
with a single behind first base in short right field.  She was sacrificed
to second on a nice bunt off the bat of Senior co-captain Jessica Lyles.
Tracey had to stay put on second on a lineout to the Wildcat second
baseman
.  With 2 outs, Brianna Davis smashed a single sharply through the
5-6 hole, pushing Tracey to third.  Dana Landers then drilled a 1-0 pitch
(that wasnt as far outside as the Woodmont coach or catcher intended) to
the leftcenterfield fence for a double that scored both Tracey and Davis.
Another lineout to second ended the rally but not before some insurance
runs were in place for the Lady Mavs young but impressive battery.  With
only three outs to work with, Woodmont went back on offense to try and make
a game of this opening round playoff matchup.
      Befitting the top performances of this night, In the top of the 7th
inning, Storch,  the Freshman pitching sensation struck out two of the
batters she faced from the heart of the Lady Cat order (giving her 7 Ks and
no walks in the strong 1 hit shutout performance), while the third hit a
hard grounder between third and short.  Landers raced toward the grass in
the proverbial 5-6 hole, backhanded the shot, wheeled and elevated
simultaneously, then threw hard, strong, and true to her tall first
baseman
, Maddie Tracey.  Tracey stretched up and out and got the
batter/runner out by a step and a half.  The Mauldin softballers thus
advanced to the second round of the district phase of the 4A State playoffs
with a 4-0 victory over a game lady Wildcat team from Woodmont.  Unknown to
the ladies in Orange and Brown at the time, on this night all 5 teams from
Region 2 were winners in their 1st round playoff games - a tribute to the
quality of competition Mauldin plays on the 4A High School softball
diamonds in the upstate.  Still unknown to this writer is the identity of
the next team the Lady Mavs will face early Saturday afternoon.  Gaffney
and Spring Valley faced off Thursday night and the winner will be Mauldin's
opponent in the second round of the playoffs.  What is known is that the
game will be held at Mauldin's Clayton field Saturday April 30th at 2:00
pm
.  Come support the Lady Mavs - the powerful pairs of Super Seniors and
Sophomores and its Phalanx of Phenomenal Freshmen.  Go Mavs !