Midland Valley head coach Michelle Yeater was pleased to see her Mustang softball team found their offensive rhythm in the squad’s 16-0 victory over James Island in the opening round of the class AAA playoffs.

Midland Valley (18-7) scored early and often. The Mustangs’ entire lineup got a chance to hit in the marathon first inning that saw the team put up eight runs, capped by Kaylee Riggs’ grand slam.

From there, the Mustangs tacked on four in both the second and fourth innings to push the game out of reach.

“Our bats were hot all season, and we kind of cooled off late in the season,” Yeater said. “We had a very good practice yesterday working fundamentals and the batting, so hopefully they stay hot.”

Much of the offense Midland Valley mustered wasn’t needed, as eighth-grade star pitcher Emily Mayson did what she has done for much of the season – shut down opposing batters.

Mayson got the win in her first ever playoff game. She went all five innings, striking out six and only allowing two hits.

The Mustangs will have to adjust for their next matchup against Hartsville. Yeater said they will have to be prepared for the faster pitching.

“I was a little worried tonight that the slower pitching would throw us off, but we made adjustments yesterday at practice. We’ll have to be ready for the faster pitching and solid defense of Hartsville,” Yeater said.

The extra work Yeater spoke of paid off for Riggs on the biggest hit of the game.

“I’ve only hit one home run – that was my second there – and it was a grand slam, so it feels great,” Riggs said. “I can’t normally hit slow pitching, but today I could.”

Gracie Gunter also had a big day at the plate going 3-for-3 with five RBIs. Amber Hong, Morgan Smith and C.J. Wilson finished with two hits each.

The Mustangs’ game in Hartsville Monday is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Hartsville is the defending state champion in class AAA.

Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. He graduated from USC Aiken in 2012 with a degree in communications.