Mavs Hold Off Bulldogs 3-2

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               The Lady Mavs, fresh off their exciting win over rival JL Mann, ventured to Boiling Springs on Monday to take on the Lady Bulldogs in another pivotal region II contest.  Although Monday’s game wasn’t nearly as crucial as the last time the Mavs visited Boiling Springs, a double header for the 2010 upper state championship, it was a big game all the same.  Another win over Boiling Springs would give Mauldin the tiebreaker over both the second and third place teams and inch ever closer to winning the regular season region II championship.

               Like last years upper state championship game, the Lady Mavs wasted no time getting started on offense.  Brianna Davis, as she has done multiple times this year, greeted Bulldog starter Jennifer Jacoby with a lead off double to deep right center.  Bria Barnhill followed with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to move Davis to third.  Dana Landers was unable to advance the runner home, as she just got under a pitch and skied a pop-up to third.  However, with two out now, clean up hitter Deanna Sullivan jumped on the first pitch she saw in hitting a ground ball single up the middle to score Davis and get the Mav’s out to an early 1-0 lead.  One was all Mauldin would get in the 1st as Jacoby retired Wagers on the very next pitch on a pop up to second.

               Freshman sensation Amanda Storch, who had frustrated the Bulldogs in their previous meeting by pitching a 3 hit shutout, again toed the rubber to start the game for the Mavericks.  And first indications were that this might be another long night for the Bulldog hitters as she breezed through the top of the order with a base on balls to slugger Alaynie Page being the only blemish.  Storch followed the free pass with a strike out to end the inning and get the Lady Mavs quickly back on offense.

                Mav left fielder Emma Swearingen lead of the second with another line drive to right that got under the glove of the hard charging right fielder allowing Swearingen to take second.  Storch executed another perfect sacrifice bunt to move Swearingen to third, and suddenly it was deja vous all over again.  Madison Tracey was unable to bring Swearingen home when she grounded out to the third baseman, but once again a Mav teammate was their to pick her up.  Jessica Lyles hit another ground ball to third and when it was bobbled the hustling center fielder beat out the throw as Swearingen, running with two out, scored from third.  Davis followed with a comebacker to the mound to end the inning with Mauldin now up 2-0.

                In the bottom of the 2nd Storch continued her strong work.  After a lead off walk, she retired the next three hitters on a couple of pop ups to first baseman Madison Tracey and routine ground ball to shortstop Dana Landers.

                The top of the second would feature a fine defensively play the Lady Bulldogs that would set the defensive tone for the next four innings.  With one out, Dana Landers took an outside offering from Jacoby and hit a looping line drive down the right field line.  The ball appeared destined to find the outfield grass but right fielder Haleigh Fowler had other things in mind.  Racing to her left, the right fielder reached out to make a pretty shoestring catch to take away what would surely have been extra bases for the Mauldin hitter.  Apparently inspired by her teammates defensive gem, Jacoby went on to retire the next ten Mavs in a row. 

               The Mauldin ace, however, was nearly as good allowing only a base on balls and a single over the next thee innings.  That single, however, produced a very scary moment for the Lady Mavs and all those in attendance. It was a wicked line drive from the Bulldog hitter leading off the 4th inning.  The ball was smoked right back through the box and deflected off Storch’s glove before striking her above the left eye.  Storch was visibly shaken as the coaches and infielders rushed to the mound to check on their pitcher.  After taking a few minutes to gather herself, Amanda insured her coach she was ok and then proved it by retiring the next three batters to end the fifth with Mauldin still on top 2-0.

               In the bottom of the 6th, the Lady Bulldogs would mount their best threat to date.  The middle of the lineup put together a couple of singles to place runners at 1st and 2nd with one out.  As some began to wonder if the beaning Storch had taken in the previous inning might possibly affect her mind set, Amanda, as she so often does, bore down and ended the threat with a strike out and a come backer to the mound.

               Looking for insurance in the top of the 7th, Katelyn Wagers strode to the plate to lead off the inning.  Playing deep in the hole respecting the Mav catcher’s power, the Bulldog shortstop had a long way to come to field a soft grounder to the pitcher’s right.  When the shortstop then double clutched to get the ball out of her glove, Wagers hustle paid off with an infield single.  This time it was Emma Swearingen’s turn to lay down the sac bunt.  The bunt was a beauty as it rolled just a couple of feet down the third base line.  By the time the Bulldog catcher could collect the ball and throw on to first, Swearingen had crossed the bag for the second consecutive infield hit and the Mavs were in business with two on and nobody out.  Again the Mavs tried to move the runners with a sac bunt, but this time Jacoby rose to the occasion and struck out her counterpart Amanda Storch.  After Tracey grounded into a fielders choice forcing pinch runner Nadine Hernandez out at third, the Mavs were down to their final out if they were going to add to their lead.  But just as these Lady Mavs had done all night, center fielder Jessica Lyles once again picked up her teammates with some more two out magic stroking a line drive to left field.   The runner on second, Emma Swearingen, got the green light rounding third from head coach Terry and sped home.  A great throw from the Bulldog left fielder produced a bang bang play at the plate as Swearingen appeared to slide under the tag.  The call, however, initially went in favor of the home team Bulldogs.  But after conferring with his fellow umpire, the home ump overturned his call to give the Lady Mavs a much desired insurance run.  Jacoby then induced a ground ball to the shortstop to end the inning but the Mavs now appeared to be well in control with a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the 7th.

                Storch and her Mauldin teammates had now shut out this good hitting Bulldog team 13 straight innings dating back to the initial match up and all indications were that the streak would continue as Boiling Springs sent up their seven, eight and nine hitters to bat in the bottom of the 7th.  The Mav defense committed its first and only error of the game to allow the lead off hitter to reach first base, but Storch responded by striking out the next Bulldog batter.  The number nine hitter, however, caught the Mavs a little off guard when she laid down a perfect bunt while down 0-2 in the count. The runner at first took advantage of the confusion and wheeled all the way around to third.  A Storch rise ball victimized the Bulldog number one hitter as she popped up to the Mav catcher for the second out.  The third and final out, however, would prove to be much more elusive.  The two hole batter hit a see and eye grounder in the hole between third and short to score a run closing the gap to 3-1.  The next Bulldog hitter must have liked what she saw as she hit another ball in the same location that tipped off the outstretched glove of shortstop Dana Landers.  The lead runner was held at third but the bases were now loaded for cleanup hitter Katie Jacoby.  Jacoby swung at the first pitch from Storch and hit a soft line drive into short left field.  The runner from third scored but left fielder Emma Swearingen fielded the ball quickly and got it in to preserve the now narrow 1 run lead.  With the tying and winning runs now in scoring position, the Mav ace went right to work on the number five hitter Janney Piazza quickly getting ahead 1-2.  The next pitch was maybe Storch’s best offering of the night, hard and at the letters apparently just off the inside corner.  In protect mode down two strikes, Piazza desperately tried to get her bat on the ball but swung through the pitch for strike number three as Mauldin escaped the nail biter with yet another big win.

                The Lady Mavs moved to 19-0 on the season with 4 games left to play.  They are now 9-0 in region play with a two game lead over second place JL Mann.  Our next game is Senior Night, this Wednesday at home  against the Seneca Wildcats.  A pre-game ceremony will be held to honor the three seniors on this 2011 team.  Please come out to support the Lady Mavs and send our three seniors out in style!!!