The Lady Wave proved that it can still compete with some of the state’s larger schools.
Now, Bill Archer’s club encounters its toughest test of the season as Fallon gears toward winning another Lahontan League title and the Northern Division I-A’s top seed for the playoffs.
Fallon swept its first three-game league series against Dayton last week and opens a three-game series with Fernley at 4 p.m. today at the Ed Arcinigea Complex. Fallon hosted Yerington on Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.
After beating Galena and Carson twice in the Reed holiday tournament last week in Sparks, Fallon (8-1 Division I-A) entertains Fernley (6-0) to begin a critical three-game series. Fallon needs to win the series to only repeat as Lahontan champs for the third time but pick up the top seed for the regional play-in games next month.
But seeding doesn’t carry a big burden for Archer this year. As long as the two-time defending state champs can finish as one of the top teams, they will host a three-game play-in series for the double-elimination tournament.
“You’re either going to be a No. 1 seed playing an 8 or a No. 2 or 3 playing a 7 or 6,” he said. “At the end of the day, all the good teams are going to rise and you’re going to have to play some good ball. The difference with the Fernley series now is we dropped one in that crossover with Lowry.”
Fernley is the only team in the North with a perfect Division I-A record, followed by Fallon and Lowry, both at 8-1. Elko sits fourth at 4-2 and still has a series against Lowry.
Losing to the state runner-up during a crossover last month is Fallon’s only blemish so far against the Division I-A. But Fallon also lost its key hitter, Danielle Rothery, when her senior season was cut short with a broken leg.
Fallon travels to Lyon County on Saturday for a doubleheader that could determine the region’s top seed and Lahontan League title. Fernley caps its season against Dayton next week.
Fernley, though, returns almost its entire roster after taking third at state last year in Reno.
“They should be stronger. It’s the same kids,” Archer said. “They’re going to be competitive. It will be a good game either way with our group. I think we match up well with them.”
Pitching will be a major factor as Fernley was the only Division I-A team to defeat Fallon in 2011 and 2012. Senior Jordan King leads the team with a 1.91 ERA, followed by Kailey Daggitt, who posts a 2.37 ERA.
At the plate, though, Fernley has one player batting above .500 and five above the .400 mark. Fallon, on the other hand, had one hitting above the .500 mark before Rothery was injured.
Taylor Hires-Caulk (.561), Serena Olson (.493), Cheyenne Brewer (.485), King (.456), Bailey Henderson (.453) and Brooke Mattice (.411) lead the Vaqueros in hitting this season.
Statistically, Fallon counters with a less dynamic offense but Archer feels the team hasn’t lost much of a step since the crossover loss. Fallon has outscored its opposition 186-67 leading into Tuesday’s game at Yerington, while Fernley has outscored opponents 231-61.
“The kids had to step up who weren’t everyday starters,” he said. “One through nine, I’m pleased with the lineup we put up with our sticks. We had to make adjustments.”
Shelby Lawry, who is catching along with Megan McCormick, leads the team in average at .444 followed by Rileigh Ricken at .404 and Cady Cordes and Kalyn Huckaby at .400. Ricken’s the team’s best pitcher with a 2.82 ERA followed by freshman Miranda Ford at 3.17.
“We’re pleased with the progression with our pitchers,” said Archer, whose team had to fill the void left by Jill Pinder. “I don’t believe either of them are fully satisfied where they need to be. I thought that Rileigh stepped up and pitched pretty well this weekend with the number of games.”
The Lady Wave, though, have not lost to a non-Division I state opponent since the Ruby Mountain crossover. Fallon rode a 10-game winning streak into the Reed tournament before Spanish Springs ended it on Friday. Spanish Springs defeated Fallon on Saturday to reach the championship game against Reed as the Cougars won the tournament.
Archer said the competition level of the tournament helps give the team confidence at this critical point of the season.
“It instills confidence in our girls because we can play with anybody,” Archer said. “The goal is to repeat. In order to do it, you need to play good teams in order to beat good teams.”
Reed Tournament Recap
Fallon 4, Galena 3
The Lady Wave broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning to win the one-run game.
Kaysee Archer, Rileigh Ricken and Megan McCormick each drove in a run as Miranda Ford picked up the win in the circle. Ford pitched five innings before Ricken came in the sixth for the save.
Fallon 7, Carson 1
Deadlocked at one run apiece, Fallon broke the game open in the final inning with six runs.
Ricken and Shelby Lawry each had two hits and one RBI, while McCormick drove in two. Macy Myers and Paige Thorne each drove in one. Ricken pitched a complete game with two strikeouts and one walk.
Spanish Springs 8, Fallon 0
The Cougars recorded an inside-the-park home run in the first inning and never let up against the Lady Wave.
Ali Tedford and Lawry each singled for Fallon’s only hits in the game. Ricken and Ford shared pitching duties after Ford couldn’t get out of the first inning.
Fallon 9, Carson 6
Tied at five in the final inning, Fallon scored four times to defeat Carson for the second time in the tournament.
Lawry led the team with two RBIs and Kalyn Huckaby was the only player with two hits. Paige Thorne tripled, and Ricken, Cordes and Tedford each singled. Ricken picked up the win, going four innings.
Spanish Springs 7, Fallon 0
Unlike the first meeting, only one run was scored in the first three innings until the Cougars poured in six runs.
Fallon picked up two hits, one each from Ricken and Gabby Sharpe. Ricken pitched all seven innings.