MIDLOTHIAN — As far as Glen Rose softball coach Kiel Miller is concerned, his Lady Tigers have been in playoff mode — trying to survive and reach the postseason — for quite a while now.
Miller took note of that on Monday night right after the squad knocked off Midlothian Heritage a second straight time, clinching the third-place playoff spot out of District 8-4A. The 11-14 Lady Tigers now face District 7-4A champion Mineral Wells (20-7-1) tonight (Thursday, April 27) at 8 p.m. in a one-game bi-district playoff at the softball field in Stephenville’s city park. The winner will advance to the area round against either Big Spring or Vernon.
The Lady Tigers had blown out the Lady Jaguars when they played on Friday night in Glen Rose in the final regular-season game, 18-3, boosted by six runs batted in off the bat of Lauren Forkner. That ended with a 13-run explosion for Glen Rose in the bottom of the third inning.
Glen Rose had to win that game to move into a tie for fourth place at 5-7, forcing Monday’s one-game play-in to qualify for the playoffs.
Miller said he told his players when they started the second round of district play that they should treat each of those games as if they were playoffs.
“We’ve been fighting for our lives the last three weeks, and nothing’s changed at all,” Miller said Monday.
Even though the competitive nature of Monday’s game may have done some good for the Lady Tigers, Miller said he liked seeing the 15-run win — stopped on the mercy rule after just three innings — even better.
“That sent a statement to Mineral Wells,” Miller said. “It’s good to see this young team win with pressure. It was good to see us hanging in there tonight.”
Monday’s win was a high-scoring, competitive contest that the Lady Tigers won by a 14-12 margin. The game was tied at 5-5, 6-6 and 11-11 before Glen Rose scored two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. Heritage added one run in the bottom of the ninth before Lady Tigers pitcher Courtney Morris got the final out to earn the hard-fought win.
The Lady Tigers outhit the Lady Jaguars 19-15.
Lauren Forkner and Tatum Stegint were dynamite, as usual, at the plate for the Lady Tigers Monday. Forkner drove in three runs, going 4-for-5 with a triple. Stegint was 2-for-5 with one RBI, including two doubles off the left-field wall.
Also in that game for Glen Rose, Camryn Miller was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI, Alexis Drugan was 3-for-3 with a double and one RBI, and Sydney Lozier was 3-for-6 and drove in two. Morris and Abby Green, who doubled, also had one RBI each.
Morris struck out two and walked four in going the distance.
Forkner is a senior first baseman, but this is her only season playing for the Lady Tigers. She played three seasons on the varsity softball team at San Angelo Central before moving here.
“We care about each other,” Forkner said of the Lady Tigers. “It’s a team I’m proud to be a part of.”
Stegint, the team’s catcher, said she has been surprised at how fast this year’s team came together to find success, calling it “unreal.”
“Your heart is racing,” Stegint said. “Thoughts can’t even process what we’ve done.”
In the 18-3 triumph over Midlothian, things unraveled for the Lady Jaguars starting pitcher, who gave up 14 earned runs in just 2-2/3 innings — including 13 in the third. She was pulled from the game after she was seen pushing one of her own teammates during a talk on the mound with runners on second and third base in the bottom of the third inning.
The Lady Tigers picked up all 13 of their hits off of the starter. Meanwhile, Morris allowed only three hits to the Lady Jaguars as she picked up the win.
Forkner went 2-for-6 with a pair of triples to account for her six RBI. Morris was 3-for-3, and teammates Hailey Ibarra and Stegint drove in two runs each.
“We were nervous,” Miller said after Friday’s game. “I told them they’ve got to play another game, and to have fun. I think we had a lot of fun.”