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Midland Trail forces deciding game against James Monroe

May 15—hico — The threatening rains had largely abated by the time the game started.

But, in the early innings of a Class A Region 3 softball tournament matchup between Midland Trail and James Monroe Wednesday at Helen Nuckols Field, the host Patriots began to rain a few runs down on the Mavericks to jump into the driver's seat.

This time, however, they didn't fold in the end.

The Patriots forced a third and deciding game Thursday by shutting out James Monroe 8-0 in six innings. It was a reverse outcome from the opening game of the best-of-three, when Trail led 7-0 before dropping a 10-9 verdict to the Mavericks at Lindside on Monday.

On Wednesday, the hosts plated two runs in the first inning, three more in the second and another run in the third to gain momentum en route to avoiding elimination.

"I think it humbled us quite a bit," Midland Trail head coach Candace Young said of the Game 1 setback. "We came in and we just didn't have that killer instinct there after we got those seven runs. We kind of got a little lax at times.

"And I told them tonight that seven runs means nothing. We can't get that mentality again. And, if we make a mistake, that means nothing. ... I think we did a pretty good job of winning every inning tonight."

MTHS freshman pitcher Madison Rader helped her cause by going a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate on the evening, including a bases-clearing double in the second frame that brought home three runs and staked the Patriots to a 5-0 cushion.

Nevaeh Hall drove in two runs, and Hannah Beeson (triple), Jenna Stonestreet (double), Jesse Skaggs, Anna Weaver (RBI) and Kylie Ramsey (double, RBI) supplied a base hit apiece to the attack.

In the bottom of the sixth, Beeson laced a hard-hit three-bagger then raced home with the winning run. In the top half of that inning, the Patriots registered a big double play to get out of the inning and prevent the Mavericks from doing any damage.

"That was the goal; we had to jump on them early," said Young. "We needed to go the first inning to go three-up, three-down as quick as we could. Then, come in and tack a few on the board. We just went through the mentality of winning every single inning."

"I'm proud of our bounce-back," she added. "Kids can roll over. A lot of emotions this week. I'm really proud of them for staying focused and getting the job done tonight."

Young said the Patriots learned from the difficult Monday experience.

"I think it was just that we made the adjustments from Monday night," she said. "Maddie is one of those hitters that she can lay it down, she might hit one of those I like to call bleeders, those over-under balls.

"But all the girls are kind of like that.

We focused yesterday on the mechanics of hitting and getting our bunts and timely hits and things like that, and I think it paid off yesterday just going over that stuff."

On the mound, Rader struck out seven batters, walked four and limited James Monroe to one hit, a single by catcher Shailyn Wickline.

The Mavericks stranded a runner in the first and moved runners to second and third in the second but couldn't take advantage. Rader struck out three — all swinging — in the latter inning.

The visitors stranded another runner in the third when Beeson ranged to her right in center field and made a nice catch on a fly ball for the third out.

"I don't know if we just didn't come ready to play," said James Monroe coach Greg Wickline. "I'm not sure. I know defensively we're going to struggle; we have all year.

"We didn't have very many good at-bats." The players weren't "trusting in the process," he said. "Which was weird. I felt like they were going to be able to come out and hit the ball a little bit. Hey, sometimes that's the way it goes."

Trail (19-7) will travel to Lindside Thursday for a decisive 6 p.m. game.

"We're going to try to get it in," Wickline said, noting that the Mavericks want to accommodate Midland Trail's Friday graduation ceremony if at all possible. "We don't want to interfere. We're going to do everything to get it in tomorrow."

"We're going to do everything we can to get that game in tomorrow (so the team's four seniors can enjoy Friday's graduation)," Young said.

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