Honeybees set for district softball playoff

Mark Wilson mwilson@empiretribune.com
The Stephenville Honeybees got back to fundamentals this week, working to improve their defensive skills as they prepared for a three-way District 8-4A playoff to decide second, third and fourth place for the playoff seedings. They will play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Glen Rose High School against either Godley or Venus.

The Stephenville Honeybees softball squad has survived some rough patches and is headed for the playoffs, but first they have more District 8-4A work to do.

The Honeybees will be involved in a three-way playoff to determine second, third and fourth place in District 8-4A for the playoff seedings. All three had 8-4 district records, and Alvarado won the district title at 10-1.

The Honeybees will play at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Glen Rose High School field against the winner of Friday’s game between Godley and Venus.

If SHS wins that game today, they will be the No. 2 playoff seed behind Alvarado. If they lose Saturday they will have to play another game on Monday, also in Glen Rose.

The Honeybees lost their regular-season finale on Tuesday, falling to Alvarado 15-5, making the three-way playoff necessary.

Morgan DiCiccion had a double and a single in four at-bats for the Honeybees, and Madison Gilder, Samantha Luna, Bianka Garcia and Jettie Funderburgh drove in one run apiece.

Senior pitching ace Julia Flores — the two-time district Pitcher of the Year — took the loss. She gave up 15 runs — 10 earned — on 13 hits while striking out eight and walking three.

The Lady Indians scored four runs in the first inning, but the Honeybees gained the lead, 5-4, in the top of the third. But that was all the damage the Honeybees could do at the plate, while Alvarado added three in the third, five in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth.

SHS head coach Rus Mayes said Alvarado’s success hasn’t been a surprise this season. But an outstanding freshman pitcher unexpectedly gave Venus just enough to put that team in contention.

A few injuries along with some uncharacteristic defensive lapses contributed to a couple of Stephenville’s district setbacks. That was evident in the loss to Alvarado, when the Honeybees committed four errors.

“It was a little disappointing,’ Mayes said. “I felt like we let a couple of games slip away. We had the two toughest teams (Alvarado and Venus) back-to-back at the end. Venus is riding high, and they swept the second half and beat Alvarado.

“We’ve emphasized defensive expectations this week. We’re looking to get back to fundamentals. We teach mental toughness, but sometimes that’s been our weakness.”

For this district playoff, a couple of starters are out of town and unavailable, and Jessica Ebeling is sick and temporarily sidelined.

Mayes brought up four players from the junior varsity to help with depth. They are sophomore twins Magi and Maci Watson, along with freshmen Laine Watson (their sister), and Kenzie Mayes.