By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE — A night after what may have been its most difficult loss of the season, Stephenville enjoyed arguably its biggest win.
The Honeybees stayed alive in the race for second place in District 6-4A, leading the whole way in a 9-4 win over Abilene Wylie on senior night at McCleskey Field Tuesday.
“This felt a lot better than (Monday) night, that’s for sure,” said Stephenville head coach Rus Mayes, referencing Stephenville allowing two runs in the bottom of the seventh and one in the eighth to lose 6-5 at 6-4A leader Mineral Wells. “We had to have this one to stay in good playoff position. It sets us up with an even bigger one at Graham Friday.”
Home runs by Alexis Duckett and Nadine Arredondo spearheaded the Honeybee attack, generating a 9-2 lead that was more than enough to survive Wylie scoring twice in the top of the seventh.
Duckett’s 2-run bomb made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second. Also scoring on the play was Sierra Varnado, who reached on a walk. The Bees were already ahead 1-0 after Kali Smith walked, stole second and scored on a single by freshman Julia Flores, also the game’s winning pitcher.
The Bees scored three more times – and five total – in the second. Wylie got two outs after Duckett’s homer, but Smith singled, Arredondo walked and Shaffer hit into an error when Wylie tried to get the lead runner at third but threw the ball away. Smith scored on the play, and was soon followed across the plate by Arredondo and Shaffer thanks to a two-run single by Flores.
Arredondo soon matched Flores with three RBI, and she did it on one swing in the sixth inning. Freshman Morgan Diciccio singled and Smith walked before Arredondo blew the game open with her fifth homer of the year, her fourth in the last six games.
“Nadine has really been on a roll,” Mayes said. “She’s seeing the ball well, and she’s hitting for power. If you put one over the plate, she’s strong enough to give it a ride.”
The playoff race is such a mess that not a single 6-4A team knows its playoff seed entering Friday’s district finales. This much is clear – If Stephenville wins, the Bees will be hoping for an Abilene Wylie win. If SHS loses, the Bees will be rooting for Wylie to lose. The keys to the playoff equation are Stephenville’s head-to-head sweep of Wylie, as well as Wylie’s sweep of Graham.
Here are the numerous scenarios:
1. Mineral Wells (5-2; vs. Wylie): Outright district champ with a win, but would be tied for first with Graham with a loss and a Graham win.
2. Graham (4-3; vs. Stephenville): Will tie Mineral Wells for first with win and Mineral Wells loss; Will finish second with win and Mineral Wells win; Will tie Stephenville for second with loss and Wylie loss; Will finish fourth with a loss and Wylie win.
T3. Stephenville (3-4; vs. Graham): Will finish 2nd with win and Wylie win; Will tie Graham for 2nd with win and Wylie loss; Will finish third with loss and Wylie loss; Will tie Brownwood for fourth with loss and Wylie win.
T3. Abilene Wylie (3-4; vs. Mineral Wells): Will finish third with a win and a Stephenville loss; Will tie Stephenville and Brownwood for third with a loss and a Stephenville loss. Will be third with a win and a Graham loss. Will tie Brownwood for fourth with a loss and a Stephenville win.
5. Brownwood (3-5; Regular season complete): Eliminated if Stephenville and Wylie both win; Tied for third with Stephenville and Wylie if Stephenville and Wylie both lose; Tied for fourth with Wylie if Stephenville wins and Wylie loses. Tied for fourth with Stephenville if Wylie wins and Stephenville loses.