By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (April 15, 2016) — Rus Mayes is a 200 game winner and Stephenville is a district champion.
Some nights just go perfectly according to plan.
Not that Mayes planned on his Honeybees falling behind, 4-0, in the top of the first inning at McCleskey Field Friday, but the rest of the evening couldn’t have possibly gone much better.
Sami Shaffer drove in four runs and Stephenville outscored Mineral Wells, 8-1, over the last six innings of an 8-5 win.
Shaffer tied the game at 5-5 with a solo home run to center to begin the bottom of the fifth, then lined a hot shot past the short stop and all the way to the left field fence for a double that plated a pair of insurance runs in the sixth.
The win, paired with a 3-2 Abilene Wylie loss to Brownwood Friday, gives Stephenville a two-game advantage with two games remaining.
“It feels kind of surreal to have it all go this way,” says Mayes, who was 114-70 as head coach at Eastland and is now 86-63 at Stephenville. His first career win was a decade ago on February 15, 2006, and his 100th came just more than four years ago on March 1, 2011. “I don’t want to share anything, though. The goal now is to win it outright and stay hot going into the playoffs.”
They have two chances to win the title outright, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Abilene Wylie. The regular season finale and senior night at McCleskey Field is next Friday, April 22, against Graham.
Nadine Arredondo had the official game-winning hit two batters before Shaffer came up in the bottom of the sixth. Arredondo singled in a run, then Emily Miller drew a walk to bring up Shaffer, all with two outs.
Two-out hitting was also key to earlier stages of the comeback. Madison Gilder made up smoked an RBI double to the fence to score Kali Smith and cut it to 4-3. Smith had reached on a two-out walk to bring up Gilder.
The Bees tied it at 4-4 in the bottom of the third when Jessica Howell hit into an error on the Mineral Wells shortstop that allowed Arredondo to score after reaching base on a leadoff double.
Mineral Wells scraped together a pair of hits and beat a throw home to regain a brief 5-4 lead in the top of the fourth.
Before Stephenville could win, the Honeybees had to erase the early deficit. Mineral Wells scored twice when Gilder slipped to the grass fielding a single to left and twice more when the inning could have been over if not for a controversial safe call at third base.
Stephenville wasted no time beginning to climb out of the hole. Gilder bunted, stole second and scored on a Julia Flores single before Arredondo singled and stole second on catcher’s indifference with Flores at third. Miller drew a walk to load the bases for, guess who, Shaffer.
The junior shortstop lifted a sac fly to center field. It wasn’t as exciting as the home run she would belt later, but it moved everyone up a base, scoring Flores to trim the margin to 4-2 before an inning was complete.
“That’s something we try not to do obviously, is fall behind like that. Unfortunately, though, with the young team we have this year we have fallen behind a few times,” Mayes said. “But we never quit, this team doesn’t know how to quit. I thought getting two back in the first inning was huge and changed the momentum of the whole game.”
Flores was strong in the circle, allowing just one run over the final six innings. The sophomore has pitched all but one inning this season for the district champs.
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