MELISSA — The subject was shoes, and it came up quite unexpectedly in the bottom of the first inning with two outs and Melissa up, 1-0, courtesy of Alexis Pevehouse’s long ball into fauna and flora just beyond the center field fence. It was then that a keen-eyed observer — not me — noticed at least one Princeton Lady Panther sporting steel spikes on Melissa’s new turf — reportedly in violation of an agreed-to District 11-4A rule. Further inspection revealed several Lady Panthers to be wanting, including Princeton head coach Rhana Rhamos.
This shoe subject, broached mid-game on Monday, March 26, at the Melissa Sports Facility, seemed to be a popular one as affected parties discussed it for perhaps half an hour before apt action was agreed to. Rhamos, this scribe deduced, objected to this footwear canon being so reverently observed. That and, word reached the press box, her team had worn these spikes before in other locales and/or her superiors had told her not to worry about it. Besides, it was allegedly posited, she and her players had nothing else suitable to wear — and the lines at Walmart would be dreadful at this hour. (OK, I made up that last part.)
Anyway, play was in fact nearly suspended pending a ruling from “on high” the next day — a ruling that those who had reason to know prophesied would go against Princeton as the subject documentation favored Melissa mightily. Soon, Lady Panthers began to emerge from the dugout with newly-donned sneakers. Play quickly resumed with all participants duly shod — save for Rhamos who evidently really had no other shoes and discharged her remaining duties in her socks.
The Lady Cards quickly dispatched their challengers, 10-0, in five innings. Besides Pevehouse’s homer, Anna Fortenberry and Maggie Rodgers also deposited game balls into uncharted regions of the venue. Pevehouse smacked a triple as well and Savannah Rodriguez added a double. All told, Melissa put up 13 hits.
From the pitcher’s circle, Pevehouse no-hit Princeton and struck out nine with two walks.
With the win, the Lady Cards (4-1) kept pace with Celina for first place at the midpoint of the district race. Princeton remains winless in district play.
“It’s one of those games you knew coming into it you should win,” Melissa head coach Eric Rodgers said. “But still, you have come out and you have to play. There are a lot of times games you should win that you don’t. But we were able to score every inning and that helped. That kind of took pressure off the girls, let us relax and just play. … We’re going to have to tighten it up and play better Thursday against Anna, but they know that. And I know they will.”
As for Maggie Rodgers’ homer in the second inning, it was her career-first and she had an idea it was coming this night. “In the dugout I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to hit a dinger tonight,’” she said. Why? “Because I haven’t been hitting well in the past few games and I got my confidence up.” Once she made contact, Rodgers said, “I knew it was out.”
Fortenberry, who sent a fourth-inning 2-1 pitch over the wall in right center, added, “I think our team is one of the better ones in the district, offensively.”
Game time on Thursday for Melissa at Anna (1-4) is 6 p.m.