The Lady Wave made it look too easy but found a challenge to help prepare for the last stop before the state tournament.
After breezing by South Tahoe in last week’s play-in series, Fallon was humbled by Bishop Manogue, 12-2, in a nonconference clash Monday before facing Lowry in today’s NIAA Northern Division I-A Region Softball Playoffs in Winnemucca.
The winner plays either No. 4 Elko or No. 1 Fernley at 4 p.m., while the losers square off at 2 p.m. The championship is Saturday at noon and the top two teams advance to next week’s state tournament at UNLV in Las Vegas.
Despite the setback against the Miners, Fallon is starting to find its groove since handing Fernley its first loss to a Northern Nevada opponent last month.
The offense had no issues against the Vikings last weekend and the pitching was nearly perfect, allowing just one run in the two games. But today’s opponent, however, presents a stronger challenge as Lowry meets Fallon in the postseason for the first time since last year’s state championship when the Lady Wave cruised to a nine-run win.
“We know their pitchers are decent,” Fallon coach Bill Archer said. “We’re looking forward to playing them again in the playoffs.”
Lowry got some payback in March during the crossover when it stopped Fallon, 4-2. Nearly two months since that defeat, Fallon’s a much different team.
Fallon didn’t perform well with runners in scoring position, as has been the tale in the losses this season. But the Lady Wave broke through in the final game against Fernley and showed what can happen if the players are able to cash in on those opportunities.
“We felt like early in the season that we left of runners in scoring position,” Archer said.
While Fallon has cleaned up hitting in key situations, it has responded well to losing a key member from the state title teams.
Its best power hitter — senior Danielle Rothery — is on the bench with a leg injury and Archer’s relying more on the underclassmen to carry the team unlike the last two state titles when the juniors and seniors led the charge. Freshman Miranda Ford has become a solid backup in the circle to junior Rileigh Ricken, who’s been solid both in the circle and batter’s box. Freshman Megan McCormick and junior Shelby Lawry have stepped in for the injured Rothery at catcher.
Ricken missed the Manogue game, which allowed for Ford to get some work in before the playoffs. Archer, however, viewed the nonconference game as a tune-up for Lowry as Fallon worked on some kinks.
“We were mainly looking at sharpening their skills,” Archer said of the contest. “We hit their pitcher a bit.”
Ricken’s been the team’s deep-ball threat after she had two blasts against Fernley two weeks ago and then doubled three times and drove in five in the first game against South Tahoe last weekend. McCormick’s also been strong with the bat after driving in six runs on three doubles against the Vikings.
Seniors Cady Cordes and Kaysee Archer were dominant at the plate in the series as was sophomore Ali Tedford. Cordes had three RBIs in the first game while Archer accounted for three RBIs and four runs in the second game. Tedford also drove in three.
A win in today’s first game will put Fallon one shy of going to next week’s state tournament.
After Fallon showed Fernley’s vulnerability last month coupled with Elko’s improvement since the crossover in March, Bill Archer expects a dogfight for the top two teams representing the North. Fernley is the top seed but lost to Fallon for its only blemish in the division while Lowry’s only loss came to Fernley. Elko’s the fourth seed and after losing to Fallon by the mercy rule in March, the Indians nearly defeated Fernley but lost in the final inning.
“We felt confident that we can beat them,” Archer said about facing Fernley. “The way we look at it with Fernley, Elko and Winnemucca (Lowry) is they’re teams capable of beating each other. It’s going to be pretty even. I feel like if we need to be sharp in all three aspects (pitching, hitting and defense) of the game. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”