RENO — Her smile said it all.
Nevada junior softball player Sara Parsons of Fallon sported an ear-to-ear grin Tuesday as she represented her club in the annual scrimmage between the Nevada baseball team and the Reno Aces at Aces Ballpark.
Through seven and a half innings, Wolf Pack fans had little to cheer about as the Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, cruised to an 11-0 lead. In the bottom of the eighth inning, however, Parsons jogged out to center field to one of the loudest cheers all night from friends, family and Nevada fans.
“I can’t even describe how it felt,” she said. “It was amazing. There are so many people backing me and it makes me want to work harder and do better.”
Admittedly nervous, Parsons said she hoped a ball would find her, but it was not to be. The Aces did not put a ball past the infield.
“It was unbelievable,” Parsons said. “I couldn’t even think when I was out in center because I was shaking so hard. I wanted one (a ball) so maybe it would calm me down.”
Parsons did not bat, but the Pack tallied six runs in the top of the ninth inning to give those still in attendance reason to cheer one more time. The Aces won, 11-6, in the fourth annual meeting between the two clubs.
Parsons and the Pack take on Mountain West foe San Diego State today through Sunday at Hixson Park. The club hit the road for a doubleheader at Sacramento State on Wednesday. Nevada lost the first game, 1-0, but rebounded to win the second game, 5-1.
The 2010 Fallon grad started Tuesday by taking batting practice, catching fly balls during warm-ups, hit the dugout to watch her counterparts take on the Aces and capped the night by signing several autographs.
“It was just a blast,” Parsons said. “Just being in the dugout with them and seeing how much baseball is different from softball, and how the whole atmosphere of baseball is different from softball. It was cool.”
Nevada softball coach Matt Meuchel chose his junior slugger about two weeks ago. Parsons, meanwhile, said it was a thrill to represent her club.
“It was an honor,” she added. “All teammates were up in the stands and cheering for me. I’m just glad I didn’t make a fool of myself.”
Meuchel, meanwhile, took his turn as a first base coach, and said it is great exposure for his program to be a part of the annual tradition.
“It’s always exciting,” Meuchel said. “We get a chance to be out here on a yearly basis. For Sara to come out here, she was ear-to-ear from the start of the game. It was exciting for her to have this opportunity to play in this atmosphere.”
The game also produced a $15,000 donation from the Aces to the University of Nevada Dugout Club to benefit the baseball program.
The Aces led 11-0 before the Pack scored six times in the top of the ninth inning. Third baseman Bryce Barger singled and scored on Joe Setum’s RBI single to get the Pack on the board.
Ryan Teel had an RBI double, Brett Jones delivered an RBI single, Barger singled home a run in his second at bat of the inning and Ray McIntire’s single scored the final two runs of the inning.
Center fielder Jamison Rowe had Nevada’s first hit of the game and also doubled in the game. Barger collected two hits in the ninth.
Tyler Skaggs, ranked the No. 1 prospect in the D-backs organization by Baseball America, held the Wolf Pack to just one hit over the first four innings. Aces pitchers and catchers played for both clubs and the game was played in a traditional spring training format.
Nevada returns to Mountain West play this weekend at San Diego State. The Wolf Pack and Aztecs play game one on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Tony Gwynn Stadium. Saturday’s game is set for 2 p.m. and Sunday’s contest is a 1 p.m. first pitch. All three games of the series can be heard on 1450 AM with Don Marchand calling the action.
The Aces began defense of their Pacific Coast League Championship and Triple-A National Championship on Thursday in Colorado Springs. Reno’s home opener is April 12, with first pitch slated for 6:35 p.m.