Mavs Shutout Riverside

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      Wednesday evening at Clayton field on the Campus of Mauldin High
School, the Lady Warrior Softball team visited for the rematch of a game at
Riverside High, won decisively (13-1) by the Lady Mavs. Unlike the cold and
windy evening of March 24th, the weather on this April evening was perfect
for players and spectators alike !  The Mauldin Softballers were to play
their second of three consecutive Region games during a pivotal week,
having dispatched Byrnes on Tuesday and with JL Mann looming Thursday. The
matchup appeared on the surface to lean heavily in favor of the Home ladies
in Orange and White, but Riverside, despite its humble win loss record and
apparent youth, has several very capable players and is a team that knows
how the game is played.
      Freshman Ace Amanda Storch took center stage in the pitcher's circle
for the Lady Mavs as she faced the top of the warrior order to open the
game.  She struck out the first batter then surrendered a bloop hit into
leftfield to the Riverside lefty centerfielder.  Storch's opposing pitcher,
Emma Michaels, laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second, but
the cleanup hitter grounded to Madison Tracey who scooped up the rolling
ball and stepped on first, completing the play herself for the third out.
Early and Often was the expectation of the Mauldin faithful, who were
atypically quiet during this contest.  In the bottom of the first, the Lady
Mavs responded to at least half of that mantra when, with one out, Freshman
Kaitlyn Wagers singled into rightfield.  Allison Jackson came in to run for
the Mauldin catcher and alternately stood on and came off first base in
anticipation of Senior Dana Landers belting the ball into play. Landers and
Michaels jousted on the outskirts of the strike zone until the count was
full.  Michaels brought a strike into the zone and Landers didnt miss it !
The Mauldin captain had in fact crushed it - hitting a line drive that
never got higher than 25 feet off the ground that zipped over the
centerfielder's head and just barely over the fence just right of the
Flagpole for a two run homer.  Deanna Sullivan took a walk for a team
leading 10th time this season and trotted to first.  An out later,
Sophomore Madison "Big Hit" Tracey drove a double into the left power alley
that scored Sullivan.  A strikeout ended the rally and the first inning,
but indeed the Lady Mavs had struck "early", they would have to keep
working on the "often" part.
      Wagers and Storch continued to keep the Riverside offense at bay
through the middle innings. Mixing changeups with fastballs, riseballs,
screwballs and curves,...if not to perfection, then to certain
effectiveness. Riverside put a runner on base via basehit in the second and
4th innings - in both cases it was Warrrior catcher Katie Davis, but in
neither case did she move beyond second base as the Mauldin Battery and
defense performed flawlessly, not making a single error in the infield or
outfield.  Storch struck out 3 more Ladies in Red and Royal between the 2nd
and 5th innings and walked only one in the same span.  Riverside never had
more than two baserunners per inning nor had one reach third base safely.
In the 3rd and 5th innings, Storch and her defense retired 3 Lady Warriors
in order. That is the good news !...
      The bad news  (invitation to snooze or a good way to lose ?), was
that in the same 2nd through 5th innings, Mauldin's offense didnt generate
a single run either !  The only real highlights during this dismal span
were a pair of hard hit doubles by Brianna Davis who has been on a torrid
hitting pace since St. Patrick's day.  Her offensive teammates didnt
support her with much more than  a walk (Landers), a sacrifice bunt
(Lyles), and reaching base via Riverside error (Hernandez) as the Lady Mav
offense batted lethargically through the middle of the second inning to the
end of the fifth.
      The top of the 6th found the Riverside team down by a mere three runs
and sending the second hitter in their batting order to the plate, followed
by the heart of their order.  A good opportunity to knock off the
undefeated and top ranked lady Mavs was within their reach...But Storch and
wagers conspired to strike out the first batter and Landers chased down a
short flyball for the second out. Then Ashley Cater dunked a single into
leftfield and the previously 2 for 2 Warrior third baseman, Katie Davis,
strode to the plate. Davis and Storch battled and Davis won by a 4-2
decision...she walked (only the second pass issued by Storch on the night),
bringing the tying run to the plate.  Storch struck her out in 5 pitches
and the Lady Mavs transitioned to offensive mode for their half of the
6th...with something to prove !
      Sophomore Madison Tracey added to the excellent hitting week she is
having with a leadoff double. Next,  Nadine Hernandez put one foot in the
battter's box and took the bunt sign from Mauldin's Coach Terry.  After a
fouled attempt, Hernandez laid down such a perfectly placed bunt as she
sped off to first base, that she beat the third baseman's throw by almost 3
steps.  With Tracey on third, Hernandez stole second uncontested.  Senior
captain Jessica Lyles then lined an RBI single by the pitcher's shins and
through the middle to score Tracey. Not one to miss out on the fun, Bria
Barnhill knocked a single just right of center to score Hernandez.  Four
consecutive hits, 2 runs in, 2 more on base and no "out" lights lit up on
the scoreboard - that's more like it !  Brianna Davis walked to load the
bases before a strikeout signaled the first out. Senior Dana Landers then
cracked a single into right field to score Lyles and Barnhill, notching 4
RBIs on the game for  the Mauldin shortstop.  A flyout to short rightfield
was insufficient to allow Davis to score and meant Mauldin, more
comfortably ahead now by a score of 7-0, was down to its last out in this
inspired 6th inning rally.  With Davis on third and Landers on first, Coach
Terry gave Landers the steal sign.    The steal in this case has two-fold
purpose depending upon how the defense plays it.  The Warrior catcher threw
down to second in this case, so Landers held up and got into a rundown,
trying to distract the shortstop's attention from Davis between third and
home.  Landers stayed safely away from any tag and lured the shortstop
towards first as Davis crept further from third base, then Davis broke for
home. Not immediately, but the Riverside shortstop saw it and turned 90
degrees to throw home. When she did, Davis launched into an ill-advised
headfirst slide at the plate resulting in a cranial collision with the
armored catcher, but also in a run for the Lady Mavs since one of her hands
reached the plate before a tag landed on her back.  Adding mirth and insult
to both the exhilaration and injury of the veteran and daring scoring play,
when Davis  put her batting helmet back on her head after climbing up from
the collision, a pound of clay-sand cascaded down Davis' pretty, doe-eyed,
smiling face.  Amanda Storch then laced a single into right field for her
first (but not last) hit of the week.  Krystina Simms came on to run for
the pitcher at first while Landers stood at third base.  Maddie Tracey then
got her second hit of the inning and third of the game with a single into
center that scored Landers for the Lady Mavs 9th run. Hernandez walked and
Lyles smacked a single into right center that chased Simms across the plate
representing Mauldin's 10th and final run.  Without a third out needing to
be recorded, Mauldin was declared the game winner by the Mercy rule after 5
5/6 s innings.
      When the dust had cleared, Mauldin had scored a run from every
position in the batting order and gotten a hit from 8 of 9. Davis, Landers,
Tracey, and Lyles continued their excellent hitting - tallying 9 or
Mauldin's impressive 13 hits on the game.  The Mauldin defense was
error-free  and Amanda Storch & batterymate Kaitlyn Wagers were outstanding
- tossing a 4 hit shutout with 6 Ks and only 2 BBs. The Mauldin Varsity
Softball team pushed its Regular Season record to 17-0 and its 4A Region 2
mark to 7-0 assuring Mauldin of a berth in the district playoffs. On
balance the win over Riverside looks like a convincing one, which it
was...however, on this night it took 6 innings to complete what could have
and should have been accomplished in 3 or 4 innings. There were many fine
plays, hits, and contributions, but to finish this season the way this team
believes it can and is making the rest of the state believe it can as well,
the young lady Mavs will need to emulate their sophomore and senior sisters
and play strong and focused every inning of every game.
      That axiom and the Mauldin Softballers will be put to the test
tonight just South of the motor mile at JL Mann, starting at 5:30 pm.  It
is a clash of titans - #1 vs. #2 in both the state rankings and Region 2
standings.  The Lady Patriots will be looking to avenge a squeaking March
2-1 loss in Mauldin, suffered without their Ace and 2 time 3A All-state
pitcher, Leslie Jury in the circle.  This game will be for bragging rights
and probably seeding in the District & Upper state Playoff tournament.  It
will also be one to call attention to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer
awareness Foundation, as both teams will wear pink in honor of those who
have passed, those who still battle, and those who survive and raise money
to fight this insidious disease .  Good Luck Ladies - Go Mavs !

      NOTE:  The Mauldin Varsity Softball team will be holding a skills
clinic and picnic on Saturday April 9th for all interested girls ages 6-13
at Clayton Field starting at 9:30 am until 2:00 pm.  Proceeds will be
donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the fight against Breast
.  Bring your mitt, bat, & helmet, come meet the 2011 Lady Mavs, and
have some fun while you improve your softball skills and understanding of
this great game. Lunch and tee shirts will be provided.  Call Lindy Landers
at (864) 270-5482 to register or for more information.