Midland Trail's Chezney Skaggs, with backup from teammate Madison Berry, made this play during a regular season game against Cross Lanes Christian. The Patriots open Region 3 championship play tonight in Hico.

Midland Trail hopes to keep a magical season alive a little longer this week.

Weather permitting, the Patriots host James Monroe at 6 p.m. Monday on the opening night of the Class A Region 3 softball championship series. Game two is set for Lindside on Tuesday, and the if-necessary third game will be played in Hico Wednesday.

"Overall, our strength is playing together," said Midland Trail head coach Candace Young. "The girls want to win and pick each other up.

"Our mantra has been limit our strikeouts, limit our errors and play with intensity."

"Our pitching is a big point for us," Young continued. "The 1-2 punch of Emmie (Lopetrone) and Meghan (Gill) has been awesome.

"Madison Campbell has stepped up big on the offensive side of the ball. She comes up with big hits. Faith Bailes is clutch at the plate, as well. She's leading us in RBIs, while Meghan Gill is leading in average.

"I couldn't ask for a better catcher than Sydney Sheets. She protects that plate. My middle infield gets along great and I'm just waiting for that 6-4-3 double play to happen. My outfield is full of speed. Campbell is on both sides from center backing everyone up and (Emily) Dickerson comes up with big catches. My right fielder (Jordian) Stonestreet has come alive at the plate, as well."

"I have five seniors that bring experience to the table but everyone contributes on the team," said Young. "From the dugout staying 'hype' and cheering to bag running to pinch hitting, everyone is doing their job and it goes a long way."

A state tournament appearance is a strong possibility "if this team plays their game and up to their potential."

Gill, a rising senior first baseman/pitcher, admits the Patriots stumbled a little bit out of the gate this spring as some of the school's basketball players were still involved with that sport since they advanced to the state tournament. At one point while the overlap occurred, the softball team was 1-3, and it stood at 3-4 following a 3-1 loss at Class AAA Woodrow Wilson on April 27. That early stretch did include a 12-2 victory over James Monroe on April 24.

Since the Beckley setback, Midland Trail has been spotless, reeling off 15 consecutive victories to carry an 18-4 record into this week.

"When (the basketball players) came back, we started becoming as a team and working as a team," Gill said. "We always had a mind that we'd make it (to this stage)."

The key to the team's success is "talking on the field and hyping each other and hitting the ball," she said.

What's another ingredient to the success so far? "We're all friends and we all get along."

Now, she and her friends are hoping to take the final steps this week to secure a berth in the state tournament at South Charleston. "We're ready to play," Gill said.

• • •

Faith Bailes leads the Midland Trail offensive attack with a .472 batting average (34-for-72) with 13 doubles, five triples and 31 RBIs. Meghan Gill checks in at .464 (26-for-56) with three home runs, three triples and 24 RBIs. Madison Campbell bats .391 (25-for-64) with five home runs, five doubles, four triples and 21 RBIs. Sydney Sheets is at .383 (23-for-60) with five triples and 14 RBIs, Emmie Lopetrone is hitting .381 (24-for-63) with five two-baggers, two triples and 13 RBIs, Chezney Skaggs hits at a .362 clip (21-for-58) with three triples, and Emily Dickerson bats .291 (16-for-55), has hit two homers and driven in 11 runs.

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