By BRAD KEITH
(March 13, 2016) — For what head coach Rus Mayes believes to be the first time in school history, Stephenville (15-6) is a tournament champion in softball.
The Honeybees won a wild one in a semifinal against Windthorst, 6-5, then blanked Shallowater, 2-0, in the final to win the championship in the Lady Tiger Invitational in Snyder Saturday. Stephenville has won eight straight – also likely a school record, Mays says – and 14 of its last 15.
The semifinal victory proved the most difficult of the tournament for the Bees, who trailed 2-0 early and 5-2 late. But Stephenville scored twice in the fifth to even the tally, and added four runs in the sixth to overcome a three-spot by Windthorst.
Morgan Diciccio had the winning hit, an RBI single in the sixth that plated Kali Smith. A senior second-baseman and team leader, Smith was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in. Sophomore pitcher Julia Flores went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
Flores was masterful from the mound, especially in the championship shutout when she scattered four hits over five innings while striking out seven. Only two of the runs were earned by Windthorst, so Flores allowed just four earned runs on 13 hits while striking out 16 and issuing only three walks over 15 innings and 289 pitches on the day.
Madison Gilder was 2-for-2 with a run, Jessica Howell was 2-for-2 and Jennie Winstead had an RBI in the championship. Winstead was 2-for-2 a solo home run earlier in the day when the Bees beat Abilene Cooper, 5-2. Smith was 2-for-3 with two runs in that win, while Flores belted a two-run triple.
Stephenville visits Eastland at 7 p.m. Tuesday before beginning district action at home against Brownwood on Friday.
Photos courtesy KRISTI MAYES