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      As the Sun settled behind the trees in Spring Valley, The coaches
exchanged lineup cards and met with the rotated umpiring crew at the plate
before the District 2 Championship Final.  For Mauldin's Coach Joseph Terry
there would be no lineup changes, but there were questions to be answered
after the roller-coaster emotional game his charges had just won...Could
his team match their 11 hit performance of the first game ?  Would his
infield's uncharacteristic error woes continue into the second game ?  Did
his pitcher have enough left in the tank to match her brilliant 12 K
performance of the previous game ?  Without all of those answers, Coach
Terry won the toss and thus his would be the Home team in the
Winner-take-all District Final.  But where was Amanda ?  This answer didnt
take long - even Aces have to pee !
      As Miss Storch ran to the circle and toed the rubber for the top of
the first, several of the unknowns would begin to gather evidence of
clarity.  She struck out the Lady Viking lead-off batter that had tallied
three hits in the first game.  A fine play by Sophomore third baseman
Brianna Davis to Madison Tracey at first lit up the second out light on the
scoreboard, and the A-Train struck out the big first baseman again to send
the possibly shell-shocked Lady Vikes on defense in the opening frame.
      Mauldin's first inning started like Coach Terry dreamt it would.
Davis smashed a hard single into leftfield and Freshman Emma Swearingen
singled up the middle to put two aboard with no outs.  After a passed ball
advanced both Davis and Swearingen ahead 60 feet, Senior shortstop Dana
Landers lifted a fly into medium depth rightfield to score Davis easily on
the Sac fly and move Swearingen to third.  Swearingen then alertly scored
on a rare wild pitch from the Viking's pitcher.  A couple of flyouts ensued
and ended the rally, but the Lady Mavs showed that they werent drained by
the emotion of the first game and that they were ready to take care of
business in the second !
      Storch continued to cruise in the second, striking out one and
watching as Junior Bria Barnhill and then Senior Dana landers fielded and
threw accurately from their infield positions to Maddie Tracey at first to
retire the Lady Vikes in the second.  Tracey then led off the bottom of the
second with a basehit but was erased on a double play turned in by the
Spring Valley shortstop, 2nd baseman, and 1st baseman.  A strong fly to
center off the bat of Jessica Lyles was caught for the third out and it was
the Lady Vikings turn to show what they were made of and if or how badly
they wanted to represent the Midlands in what was otherwise shaping up to
be an all- Region 2 upper State championship tournament. ( NOTE:  Although
unknown at the time to the participants and spectators of this game, JL
Mann, Boiling Springs, and Hillcrest all won their first games from the
winners brackets of their respective districts to advance).
      Storch's opposing pitcher  from the Region 1 runners-up Vikings
started the third inning off with a blistering single down the third base
line.  an error in leftfield allowed the runner to advance to second.  She
was sacrifice bunted over to third, but had to stay put on an infield
single beat out by a new player off the bench and into the Spring Valley
lineup for this game. A passed ball allowed the speedy lefthanded reserve
to move into scoring position. With one out and the Lady Vikings' leadoff
and top hitter at the plate, Storch allowed a hard single up the middle
that scored Mellin and Davis for Spring Valley to tie the score at 2
apiece.  Trying to catch Mauldin unaware and get into scoring position,
Sanborn tried to steal second... Kaitlyn Wagers, the Pride of Mauldin
Middle School and the high School's varsity catcher gunned to Landers
covering the bag. Landers swiped, missed, and still had time and presence
to dive outside the line and tag the would-be thief for the second out.
Several pitches later, a swing with contact and Landers corralled a
spinning bouncer at her shortstop position and fired a strike to Tracey for
the third out.
      With the score tied and Coach Terry's Mauldin team back at the top of
their order, Davis led off with a line drive single to rightfield this time
and was then sacrificed to second on a bunt by Swearingen.  Landers singled
an outside pitch to rightfield moving Davis to third.  Landers stole second
on the first pitch to Dee Dee Sullivan then raced home behind Davis when
Sullivan smashed a triple to the rightcenterfield fence, notching her 3rd
extra base hit and 6th RBI of the night.  Flyballs were hit and caught in
leftfield and by the shortstop to end the rally, but not before the lady
mavs had reasserted their lead and desire to be the district 2
representatives in the Upper State tournament for rights to play in the
2011 State championship series.
      The Mauldin defense ruled the top of the 4th as Deanna Sullivan
robbed the Spring Valley #3 hitter of a single to right by gunning her out
at first from her outfield position.  Bria Barnhill and Tracey combined for
the second out and Storch did the same on a bouncer back to the circle.
Tracey led off the bottom of the 4th  with her 4th hit of the night, then
was sacrificed to second by Barnhill.  Senior captain Jessica Lyles hit a
grounder in the hole between third and short. It was fielded by the
shortstop, who had no realistic shot to throw out Lyles at first but who
alertly spotted Tracey trying to advance to third...a flip to Sanborn and
Tracey slid into the ball-filled glove for the second out.  A flyout to
second completed the 4th inning with Mauldin still in control 4-2.
      Spring Valley threatened in the 5th with a leadoff single.  A bloop
hit between Landers and Lyles in short center might have given the rally
more substance, but Landers decelerated, feigning comfort with the catch
and freezing the inexperienced courtesy runner at first.  The batted ball
dropped in front of Lyles , who alertly scooped it up and threw to Barnhill
at second for the force out.  Lady Viking Super-sub Davis next spanked a
hit into leftfield, but Storch fielded a high bouncer back up the middle
off the bat of the next batter and threw her out at first to retire the
side without damage to her team's lead through 4 and a half innings.
      Mauldin's Bottom halves of the 5th and 6th were unproductive on the
scoreboard in spite of leadoff hits in the 6th by Swearingen (her 4th of
the night) and in the 7th by Storch (her 2nd). Spring Valley would be down
to their final two frames and 6 outs to challenge Mauldin for the title.
In the top of the 6th, Tracey recorded outs on throws from Landers then
Storch for 2 of the outs and Storch fanned the Spring Valley catcher for
the third out.  In the seventh, Storch proved she had plenty in the tank by
striking out the Viking 5th and 6th hitters then watching as Davis and
Tracey recorded the final out of the twinbill.  Storch and her Lady Mav
teammates thus clinched the District 2 championship and title, upstream and
on the road.  The second game was much better defensively for the Lady Mavs
and only one notch less so offensively as the Mauldin softballers combined
for 9 hits.  Storch ond wagers accounted for 7 more strikeouts and not a
single walk in the second game, giving up an identical and manageable 5
hits - the same as the first game.
      Mauldin will now represent District 2 in the Upper State tournament
bracket - a fresh double elimination bracket in which Mauldin will travel
to and face Boiling Springs in the first round on Saturday (time, TBD)
while JL Mann travels to Simpsonville to face Hillcrest on Friday or
Saturday as the coaches arrange.  Our young Maverick Softballers, Defending
State Champions, but picked to finish 4th in the region...won the Region
and District, despite losing 7 seniors - 4 who have gone on to play Div 1A
Collegiate softball, for the 4th Consecutive season.  Maybe its time to
give them and their fine coach their due ?  Maybe there is something to be
said for the parents, coaches, and leaders of the local rec. league
programs that churn out the talent that feeds Hillcrest, JL Mann, and
Mauldin.  And maybe the magic is back in the Lady Mavs bats.  Maybe 3 Upper
classmen and a dozen Freshmen and Sophomores can put together strong run at
a State Championship.  The talent is there... and based on the performance
and evidence seen in Spring Valley Wednesday evening, the heart and
determination is there as well !  We Believe - Go Mavs !