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      Tuesday evening the young 2011 Mauldin Varsity Softball team went on
the road to face the State's 4A  #9 Ranked Byrnes Lady Rebels in Duncan for
another pivotal Region 2 matchup.  The traditionally tough Byrnes team -
Twice State Champions  (1994 and 2000), had payback on their minds for a
4-1 loss they suffered in Mauldin last month to Freshman Amanda Storch, who
held the Lady Rebels to 3 hits, and the hot bats of Bria Barnhill, Dana
Landers, and Kaitlyn Wagers who led the offensive attack the last time
these two teams faced off.  This rematch would prove to be neither the
pitcher's duel nor low scoring affair that the March contest was  , even
though the batteries and batting orders reflected little change.
      Byrnes athletic and versatile Senior, Cheyenne Griffin was on the
mound for the home team and got Mauldin's leadoff batter to ground out to
short. Hot hitting Brianna Davis then pounded a shot at the third baseman
for Byrnes that found her glove but was too hot to handle.  Davis reached
first 2 steps ahead of the throw.  Senior Captain Dana Landers smacked an
outside pitch into right field for a hit that chased Davis to third.
Freshman outfielder Dee Dee Sullivan then drew a walk that loaded the bases
for Mauldin Middle school's Kaitlyn Wagers.  The Mauldin catcher delivered
a clutch single that scored Davis and Landers while Sullivan scampered to
third.  Wagers was replaced on first base by runner Nikki Smith, who
promptly stole second base, thus putting two runners in scoring position.
After an infield out, Sophomore Madison Tracey spanked a hard single past a
lunging second baseman pushing Sullivan and Smith across the plate and
collecting yet another 2 RBI, "big hit".  Tracey moved to second on the
unsuccessful throw to the plate and watched the third Mauldin out made in
the top of the first. As she trotted back to retrieve her mitt, a glance at
the scoreboard revealed that she and her Mav teammates had opened the game
with a 4-0 lead.
      In spite of the success of Mauldin's opening salvo, either anxiety on
the part of the young Mavs or, determination on the part of the Byrnes
squad resulted in a base-on-balls to the Rebels leadoff hitter, a defensive
error on a sacrifice bunt by the Byrnes centerfielder in the 2nd spot, and
a missle-like double into the leftfield corner off the bat of Rebel pitcher
Cheyenne Griffin that brought the first two batters across the plate to cut
Mauldin's early lead in half.  Storch struck out the next batter, walked
the next, and gave up a single to left to the Byrnes third baseman, but a
charging Nadine Hernandez in leftfield collected the hit and threw hard and
true to the plate to chase Griffin back to third base and prevent another
run from scoring.  With one out and the bases loaded, the infield wasdrawn
in to get the force at the plate and prevent Griffin from scoring to
further erode Mauldin's early lead.  A ground ball to landers generated the
expected outcome as she threw to Wagers for the force out at the plate and
the second out.  The long and short of the last out was that a 8 foot high
shot off Tracey's glove at first was picked up by Bria Barnhill alertly
backing up the play, and flipped back to Tracey for the third out - the
dynamic right side duo teamed up again to rid the bases of unwanted
      Senior captain Jessica Lyles led off the top of the second with a
single to left and was moved to second on a well placed sacrifice bunt by
Bria Barnhill (pronounced Barn-nell). Lyles was tagged out coming off
second on a hard hit ball to the Byrnes shortstop as Davis reached first
base. Landers was intentionally walked and the coaches call paid off as the
next Mauldin batter grounded out to end the 2nd offensive frame for the
Lady Mavs.  Too bad that opportunity was missed and that the Ladies in
Brown and white couldnt muster a hit or baserunner in the top of the third
inning either. The Lady Rebels were unlikely to play idly on their home
field and allow Mauldin to dictate the tempo.  The Byrnes batters were
going to have to get by the A-Train, Amanda Storch if they wanted to
compete in this game, and that wasnt in the cards in the bottom of the
second. She sandwiched a strikeout between groundouts handled by herself
and Landers with help from tall #4 at first base.
      The bottom of the third inning didnt follow the script written by
Coach Joseph Terry and his assistant Brian Thompson. After a pop-up was
caught at third for the first out, a walk and a sacrifice bunt put a runner
in scoring position with two outs. Proving why you "run on anything" with
two outs, a very high fly ball came off the bat of Byrnes' Lauren Ward with
lots of spin on it.  The hustling runner scored Byrnes third run as the fly
was missed on the right side of the Mauldin infield.  The next batter
grounded out, Barnhill to Tracey for the third out. but at the end of 3
complete the score was an uncomfortable Mauldin 4, Byrnes 3.
      In the top of the 4th, Leftfielder Nadine Hernandez led off for
Mauldin and took a first pitch fastball in the thigh. As coached she
concealed the pain and trotted without a limp to first base.  We know it
hurt and wasnt feeling 100% when Hernandez was caught trying to steal
second base a few pitches later.  Lyles drew a walk after two more pitches
and watched the second out made on a well struck line drive to the Byrnes
third baseman.  Brianna Davis reached base for the third time in the game
on an error by the shortstop.  Dana Landers then belted an outside pitch
into right centerfield just beyond the reach of a diving Byrnes outfielder.
The double scored Lyles but nice backup and relay throws by the Byrnes
defense resulted in Davis being tagged out on a close play at the plate for
an 8-6-2 third out.  Mauldin had re-established a 2 run lead 5-3 after 3
1/2 innings.
      In the Lady Rebels home half of the 4th, their catcher, Haley Hammet,
drove a 2-2 pitch over the leftfield fence for a solo homer that again
narrowed the lady Mavs lead to a single run. It was becoming clear that the
man in blue behind the plate had squeezed the strike zone to roughly the
size of a legal sheet of paper and Storch was going to have to be exacting
and on the top of her game to retire the Byrnes hitters, who were no longer
chasing what in other games would be called strikes.  Storch relented a
base on balls to the next batter, then struck out the leadoff hitter.  With
one out and one on, Byrnes Senior Samantha Vaughn drilled a single through
the center of the infield.  When Griffin hit back to the mound, Storch
threw her out at first for the second out while two runners advanced into
scoring position.  With two outs and the go-ahead run on second base,
Storch, Wagers, and Byrnes first baseman Caroline Shinn battled through a
half dozen foul tips to a full count, but when the pitch count to this
batter reached an even dozen, Storch and wagers had won this battle as
another "K" was recorded - leaving runners stranded and the Mauldin
faithful relieved.
      In the top of the fifth, Mauldin dribbled a pair of quick infield
outs before Storch, now intimately familiar with the restrictive strike
, earned a base on balls. In to run for the pitcher came Senior
Krystina Simms.  The courtesy runners (Simms and Smith) were doing their
job well on this night. Smith had already stolen a base and scored, and now
Simms was on the basepaths with similar aspirations.  Madison Tracey ripped
a single up the middle to move Simms to third, then Nadine Hernandez placed
a bloop into the dead zone behind the pitcher's mound that wasnt caught
despite a diving effort by the Byrnes second baseman.  Simms scored,
sliding under a tag and a close play at the plate. Tracey moved to second
and  Senior centerfielder Jessica Lyles came to the plate. Lyles hit a
spinning ball between the mound and the plate that landed and started to
roll towards the first base foul line. Lyles hustled towards first, alert
for the umpires foul ball call, but the Byrnes catcher retrieved the ball
before it crossed the line and fired to first but not in time to get Lyles,
who was on base for the third time in the game with her second, albeit
improbable, hit of the night.  A Texas league fly was chased down by the
Byrnes shortstop for the third out so that Mauldin didnt capitalize on the
loaded bases, but with Simms score, the Mauldin lead was once again
established at two runs.
      Byrnes narrowed that lead to a single run again in the bottom of the
5th when, after a one out double by Lauren Ward and a strikeout, Hammett
hit an RBI single. Storch ended hopes of a prolonged rally with her 6th
strikeout of the game (she would finish with 8 on the night).  Ward's run
would be the last scored by Byrnes and the game would not remain as close
as it had been to this point.  Storch gave up one hit to Byrnes in each of
their next two at bats but with help from her defense who flushed their
earlier erroneous moments.  Outfield fly outs were caught by Lyles and
Hernandez while Davis gunned a bunt attempt down throwing to first to
complete the 6th frame.  Wagers hustled out of her crouch to pick up a
dribbler and throw to Tracey for an out and Storch struck out two more to
end the 7th and the game.
      With apologies for telling the ending too soon, the fun was just
starting for the Lady Mavs in the top of the 6th.  Sporting a seemingly
insecure 6-5 lead, Mauldin's Braianna Davis rattled the leftfield fence
with a double that lacked only a couple of feet in height of being a homer.
Landers followed with a single into leftfield that moved Davis to third,
and the senior stole second base a pitch later. Deanna Sullivan reached 1st
on a Rebel infield throwing error while Davis crossed the plate.  Wagers
drove Landers home on a smash to third base that was muffed, giving Wagers
3 RBIs on the night.  Smith, running for Wagers, stole second base, then
Storch laid down a nice bunt but someone on the bases missed a sign and
didnt advance as hoped.  Madison Tracey got the run in with a long and high
sacrifice fly to right that scored Sullivan, giving Tracey 3 RBIs on her
night to match Wagers' feat. A fly to left ended the rally but the lady
Mavs could now take a 4 run lead into the top half of an inning for the
first time since the opening frame.
      In the top of the 7th with one out, Bria Barnhill put a hit into
leftfield.  The speedy second baseman didnt have to show it as she trotted
around the basepaths to score a couple of pitches later when Brianna Davis
pummelled a pitch over the same section of fence she earlier hit.  The
blast didnt just get the additional 2 feet the first one lacked - it had 18
more feet of frustrated power behind it as well.  Landers doubled behind
Davis but was left on second as a walk and two outs followed.  In the 6th
and 7th innings the Lady Mavs distanced themselves from a gritty and
resilient Byrnes Lady rebel team and took the contest 11-5.  The Mauldin
Softballers know that this game was closer than the final score, but alas
it is the win that matters in the standings and that maintains the Young
Mavericks' unblemished 16-0 record (6-0 in Region play).  Two Seniors and
two Sophomores - all veterans and members of the 2010 State championship
team, led the Lady Mav atttack with multiple hits on this night, while
Freshman Amanda Storch and batterymate Kaitlyn Wagers battled more than a
fiesty Byrnes team to turn in a gutsy and successful performance between
the rubber and the plate.
      Next up for theLady Mavs is another Region 2 contest tonight as
Riverside visits Mauldin's Clayton field at 6:00 pm.  Come see if the Lady
Mavs can keep their streaks alive and see who will be the heroes in
tonight's game - its a wonderful and amazing thing to watch as each game
one or two familiar Mauldin players and two or three different ones step
up, elevate their game, and lead the team to another victory.  Its a team
game and the Mauldin Softballers personify the team concept.  Come join the
fun and support Mauldin's finest !  Go Mavs !