By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (April 23, 2016) — Head coach Rus Mayes and company were feeling greedy Friday evening. They had no plans of sharing anything, much less their first-ever district championship.
The Honeybees scored three times in the sixth inning and Julia Flores tossed a complete-game shutout in a 3-0 win over Graham at McCleskey Field Friday evening to secure the outright title in 6-4A and set up a first-round playoff matchup with Wichita Falls Hirschi.
“It was a fun night. It’s fun anytime you win, but to be doing things that have never been done before in Stephenville makes it really special,” said Mayes, whose club may get a home playoff game as its reward. “Now we just have to keep it up in the playoffs.”
Mayes says Stephenville and Hirschi will play a single game in the bi-district round, and it is tentatively set for Wednesday in Stephenville. The plan was pending approval of WFISD administrators as of late Friday night.
Flores struck out nine while scattering five walks and three singles. A diving catch by freshman catcher Jennie Winstead on a bloop foul behind home plate with two runners in scoring position helped keep Graham scoreless. It was the second out in the top of the sixth, and Flores retired the next batter to end the inning and bring up what would prove to be the winning at bat for Stephenville.
Kali Smith reached on the game’s only error to begin the Bees’ half of the sixth. Smith then celebrated her senior night in style, scoring the first – and winning – run two batters later when Flores doubled to the wall in right center.
It just got better from there.
Mayes, first base coach Kristi Mayes, Flores on the basepaths and powerful junior slugger Nadine Arredondo in the batter’s box were the only people at McCleskey Field who expected what came next. After a wild pitch put Flores at third, Arredondo, the Bees’ leader in home runs and RBI, laid down a perfect but that forced the first baseman to charge.
Arredondo beat it out for a hit, and with the second baseman covering the bag at first and the defense preoccupied with Flores coming in to score, Arredondo scampered on to second.
“I knew nobody in the stadium would expect her to bunt,” said Mayes, though he has proven he will ask anyone to bunt given the right situation. “The book calls for a bunt there, maybe not always with someone like Nadine at the plate, but that made it even better because of the surprise factor.
Arredondo wouldn’t be staying at second long.
Junior short stop Sami Shaffer, who just missed a home run earlier in the game, drove a line drive to the wall in right, a triple that plated Arredondo for another insurance run.
Not that Flores would need it. A couple groundouts sandwiched a strikeout in the top of the seventh, and the Bees were champs alone in 6-4A.
“Julia was great and we played error-free defense behind her,” said Mayes. “When you have a pitcher that keeps you in every game especially one who can do what she does with the bat, that’s big.”
Big enough to lead a program to its first-ever district title.
One no one has to share.