And now for something completely different … at least, from a season ago.
There are no COVID-19 restrictions, no regular season exclusive to the Class 5A level, no mandatory masks, significantly more games and a much-better shot at the postseason.
Plus, it appears to be a lot more fun.
On Tuesday, Mullen opened its 2021 season in relative fashion. The Mustangs sported life, resilience and determination in taking a 16-6 decision in five innings over Monument’s Lewis-Palmer in 4A nonleague at Santo “Doc” Scavuzzo Field.
Even by surrendering a two-run home run in the first inning on an oddly weathered late afternoon – it got windy with threatening skies, early darkness and on-again, off-again drizzle – the Mustangs displayed some mettle.
“Yeah, again, as we talked about it’s all about competing,” Mustangs head coach Dave Atencio said. “Even though (the Rangers) scored on that home run, we didn’t blink.
“It was resiliency No. 1 and No. 2 playing against teams of like competition.”
Diving into a schedule that will begin with nine consecutive games at home and only one against a 5A foe, the Mustangs played like it. They went for 14 hits, four for extra bases, managed six walks and stole eight bases. Most important, their small ball produced a series of effective bunts.
“We swung the bats well and executed,” Atencio said. “We pride ourselves with our short game.”
Mullen scored in all five of its innings at the plate, including five runs in the first and third innings that led to a 14-5 lead.
Five Mustangs had two or more hits, topped by center fielder Bella Aragon’s 4-for-4 showing with three runs scored, a run batted in and four stolen bases. Winning pitcher Morgan Margeson and Ona Medina each banged out two hits and four RBIs, with Margeson having a bases-clearing double to right-center field. Elizabeth Brady had two hits, drove home three and scored three times. Freshman Morgan Stewart looked seasoned in her schoolgirl debut, handling grounders at shortstop and racking up her first hit, walking twice and scoring three times.
In the circle, Margeson, a junior, had to battle a bit by being tagged for eight hits (two homers), six earned runs and five free passes, but kept the Rangers at bay when necessary and didn’t surrender the lead.
“I was so nervous before I came out here, but I’ve done this a thousand times,” she said of taking the ball. “Everybody came out and showed today.”
Playing within 4A, she added, “helps us build up more confidence. I’m very excited.”
Mullen will resume play on Thursday (Aug. 19), when it will host Thomas Jefferson.
MULLEN 16, LEWIS-PALMER 6, 5 inn.
Lewis-Palmer 221 10 – 6 8 1
Mullen 545 11 – 16 14 1
Mullen – Aragon cf 4-3-4-1, Stewart ss 2-3-1-0, Brady 3b 3-3-2-3, Medina 2b 4-2-2-4, Walters lf 3-2-1-1, Margeson p 4-0-2-4, Gutierrez c 4-0-2-2, Newman 1b 3-1-0-0, Holz rf 1-1-0-0, Hurtado cr 0-1-0-0, Martinez cr 0-0-0-0, Linares cr 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-16-14-15.
E – Aragon. LOB – 3. BB – Stewart 2, Holz 2, Brady, Walters. 2B – Margeson, Brady, Gutierrez. HR – Medina, 1 on in 3rd. SB – Aragon 4, Stewart 2, Medina, Walters.
Pitching – Margeson (W) 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 K’s. WP – Margeson.
T – 1:51.