MAVS POWER PAST RIVERSIDE

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STORCH,  LANDERS,  DAVIS,  AND  TRACEY  POWER  MAVS  PAST
RIVERSIDE  13-1

     As the fans weaved their way through the fenced and gated access maze
to the Riverside sports complex and the sun began to set, anticipation
began to rise while the temperature fell.  The Mauldin Lady Maverick
softball team was past the midway point in an intense, but so far
successful, weeklong "road trip" of away games.  After two blowout wins
against non-region competitors, the Mauldin softballers faced a region foe
in the Lady Warriors of Riverside.  Riverside is well known for its
athletic success in Baseball, Volleyball, and other sports, but Softball
has not been traditionally one of their strongest womens programs. The Lady
Mavs found themselves ranked #1 in the state 4A softball coaches poll this
week, but that fact and a dollar bill will still only get you a soft drink
or cup of coffee.  Irrespective of either team's past accomplishments or
lack thereof, as the umpires met with the coaches at home plate, the
scoreboard read 0-0 and another 4A Region 2 showdown was underway.
      With the sun retiring from warming this blustery Thursday afternoon,
the wind picked up and howled through the shaded dugout/ press box areas
towards left-centerfield.  It looked like it should be hitters weather, but
the first two innings looked much more like a pitchers duel. Emma Michaels
of Riverside claimed the circle for the Lady Warriors, and despite a Texas
League
hit into short right-centerfield by Bria Barnhill, leading off for
the Mauldin squad, she struck out two and should have been out of the top
of the first but her centerfielder dropped a medium depth flyball off the
bat of Mauldin Senior Dana Landers.  Barnhill moved to third, Landers stole
second a couple of pitches later, and DH Kaitlyn Waggers earned a walk to
load the bases.  Mauldin's Freshman pitcher Amanda Storch got down in the
count then fouled off a handful of two strike pitches and worked the count
to 2 - 2. When ball 3 was thrown, Mauldin's runner at third must have
thought it was the 4th and walked toward the plate to score the game's
first run...but it wasnt ball 4 and she got caught in a rundown that she
lost after 4 throws for the third out.  Mauldin missed a good opportunity
to score without hitting a Michaels pitch on the nose.  Michaels would
strike out two more Lady Mavs in the top of the second inning, sandwiching
the Ks around a groundout to her second baseman and thus Mauldin posted
another egg on the scoreboard.
      Riverside wasnt faring any better against Mauldin's Freshman Ace,
Amanda Storch either.  In 5 innings of work, Storch saw to it that
Riverside laid 5 eggs on the scoreboard.  She struck out 9 batters
including all three in the bottom of the third inning, while walking none
and giving up a lonely single in the fourth inning to the pitcher's sister,
Riverside shortstop Beth Michaels.  Almost twice through the batting order,
Riverside hadnt mustered a threat to score or to get in scoring position.
The first time through the batting order, Mauldin had nothing to show for
their efforts save a few more baserunners and a matching single hit.
Michaels and Storch were controlling this game and it would be up to one of
the offenses to break the spell cast by the opposing pitcher, or one or the
other pitcher to crumble under the mounting pressure and increasing cold.
      In the top of the third inning with two out, Mauldin found itself in
the leading heart of its batting order. Brianna Davis found the sweet
stroke she has had all week and drilled a single up the middle with the
first solid contact of the game for Mauldin.  Dana Landers thwacked the
leftfield fencing with a line drive double that chased davis across the
plate with the game's and Mauldin's first run. Landers took third on a ball
that wasnt caught cleanly during an at-bat for Dee Dee Sullivan that
resulted in a Base on Balls.  A groundout to second ended the rally before
the Lady Mavs could extend their lead, but momentum and confidence seemed
to be more evident in the Mauldin dugout at this point than it had
previously in this game.  After Storch made quick work (3 Ks) of the lady
warriors in the bottom of the third, the defending State champions returned
to their encampment (dugout), donned their armor (helmets) and broadswords
(bats), and steeled for their opportunities in the batters arena (box).
Amanda Storch led off with a hard single just right of second base.  Nikki
Smith came on to run for the pitcher and moved to second when Freshman
outfielder Emma Swearinger laced a single just to the left side of second
base.  Both runners advanced a base on a groundout to third base, setting
up a "hero moment" for Senior captain Jessica Lyles.  Coach Joseph Terry
signaled the future Gamecock to put down a squeeze bunt with full
confidence in the athletic and academic leader.  the bunt was a superb one,
forcing the pitcher to move towards the first base line and throw quickly.
Michaels did so, but the ball was not gloved by the catcher.  Smith got up
from her sliding score just in time to see Swearingen slide safely into the
same spot with the Lady Mavs third run of the game.  Lyles moved to second
amidst the excitement.  An out later, Brianna Davis walked and Landers
scalded a single into leftfield, scoring Lyles.  When the hot bouncer it
wasnt fielded cleanly by the Riverside leftfielder and rolled to the fence,
Davis rounded the bases and scored Mauldin's 5th run as Landers pulled up
at third base.  The senior Captain alertly scored on a wild pitch thrown in
the direction of Sullivan in the batters box.  Returning the favor,
Sullivan smashed a bazooka shot back at the Riverside pitcher's shoulder
and jaw, but fortunately the athletic hurler was quick enough to get her
glove up and around the yellow munition without bloodshed for the third
out.
      The Lady Mavs were less successful in the top of the 5th, retiring
successively on a pair of strikeouts and a lazy flyball to leftfield, but
at the end of 5 innings, the broadsword and screwball wielding Phalanx from
Mauldin held a substantial 6 run lead over their crosstown foes in Royal
and Red shorts,... who although seemingly impervious to the cold wind, had
not yet solved the enigma of hitting Maverick pitching... and if they could
not do so soon and often, this game would be headed into the archives as a
win for the ladies in Orange, Brown, and White.
      In the top of the 6th, Madison "Big Hit" Tracey hit a bomb to the
fence in deep centerfield (that would have been over the fence at the less
square shaped Clayton field).  As her coach waved and encouraged her to dig
for third after stepping on second base, Tracey hesitated...then lost the
race with a relay throw to third base.  It was a great and powerful hit
that she wouldnt get to enjoy as much as she might have.... a double in the
scorebook, a homer in most other parks, or a triple if she would have
trusted her coach and long legged stride.  When the legend of this team and
game is passed down to future generations of Mavericks, it wont matter
because the Lady Mavs werent done and the game was headed out-of-reach.
Undeterred by her teammate's disappointment, Lyles singled into leftfield,
then Barnhill laced another single down the rightfield line.  With two on
and one out, Sophomore third baseman Brianna Davis continued her hot Advent
hitting by crunching a double into the rightcenterfield power alley.  Lyles
and Barnhill both scored on the drive.  Landers then drove in her 3rd run
of the game with her third hit of the game, this one into right centerfield
sending Davis to the plate for the third time in this game.  After a baseon
balls to Sullivan, Landers was forced out at third on a fielder's choice
for the second out.  A groundout to shortstop ended the Mauldin offensive
6th inning, but darkness was falling both literally and figuratively on the
Lady Warriors in this game.  They were down to their final 6 outs with a
run deficit which now stood at 9 runs.
      Enter Freshman relief pitcher Nadine Hernandez.  With two outstanding
performances this week and 5 more games to play before the Sabbath, Storch
both earned and may need her rest.  Coach Terry called on his versatile and
athletic Freshman to close out this game as she did against Seneca only 24
hours previous.  She walked the first batter she faced, then fielded a
sacrifice bunt and threw out the second batter for the first out in the
bottom of the 6th. The first batter advanced to second on the bunt and to
third on a passed ball.  An errant throw on a ball hit to third allowed her
to score Riverside's first (and only) run of the game.  Hernandez regained
control and got a flyball out to center, followed by a strikeout to retire
the home side and end the 6th inning with the score now Mauldin 9,
Riverside 1.
      Maybe the score differential should have already been the requisite
10 runs if a few mistakes hadnt been made on both sides of the ball by the
Lady Mavs, but playing one more inning allows for the possibility of
something memorable...and hopefully positive, to occur.  Madison Tracey
notched her second hit of the night into rightfield between a pair of
infield outs.  Bria Barnhill hit a flyball to centerfield which was
dropped, then "B" Davis walked to load the bases.  Dana Landers strode to
the plate with two outs and the bases loaded....and proceeded to crush a
ball parallel to the third and leftfield line, over the foul pole, across
the road behind the field, and beyond Greenville County School property.
It probably didnt matter which way or how hard the wind was blowing
...although favorable, the ball hit by Leona Doo-Del would not be denied
and would have exited any field for a Grand Slam Homerun.  The big hit gave
Miss Landers 4 for the game.... and 4 more RBIs meant she had racked up a
gaudy 7 against Riverside on this blustery Thursday.  It was a fitting end
to an outstanding game by a special player, student, and person.
Anticlimactic as it may be, a walk and a strikeout followed the grand
salami to end the top half of the seventh.  The Lady Mavs smilingly took
the field with a 13-1 lead.
      There was no giving up or lack of effort on the part of the Warriors
however, as evidenced by the leadoff triple hit by Ashley Carter to the
right centerfeild fence.  Unfortunately for the home team and fans,
Hernandez got the next three batters to fly out to Barnhill at second, then
to Swearingen in right, and finally a bouncer back to the mound which she
fielded and threw accurately to Tracey at first for the final out of this
decisive Mauldin victory....a victory that was also the 99th of Joseph
Terry's head Softball coaching career.
      Mauldin opens the Crescent Invitational Tournament tomorrow (Friday)
in Starr-Iva on the campus of Crescent High School against the hosts at
4:00 pm in the first of three pool play games. Come support our Lady Mavs
and  cheer our fine coach to his 100th win.  Saturday morning the Mauldin
softballers play Woodruff at 9:00 am and Greenwood at 1:00 pm.  The top two
teams from each pool will advance to a semifinal game at 5:00 pm, whose
winners will play for the championship at 7:00 pm.  It will be a long day
of great softball for our Lady Mavs as they try to stay unbeaten and
continue to surprise the critics locally and statewide who discounted the
young Mauldin team.  Well the rankings no longer indicate that Mauldin is a
young dark horse who will sneak up on unsuspecting and overconfident
opponents - the target is back on their backs, so lets cheer on these
special girls as they track 'em, rack 'em, smack 'em, and stack 'em.  Go
Mavs !