Without two key components from the state championship teams, the 2013 season appeared it would be the most challenging to win it all again.
Gone was one of the program’s best pitchers — Jill Pinder — who signed last season to play at the next level. Then the Lady Wave softball team lost its biggest bat when all-state catcher Danielle Rothery went down with a season-ending injury in March.
“It was such a young group and we could only grow and come together as a team,” Fallon coach Bill Archer said. “We grew a whole bunch this year. Two pitchers who played quite a bit this season now have more experience under their belt for this past year.”
Fallon counted on its youth and rebounded during the season despite losing more than one game to a division opponent for the first time since the realignment three years ago. The Lady Wave lost to Lowry in the crossover then two games to Fernley during the regular season before blasting South Tahoe in the regional play-in. Fallon won the regional title in Winnemucca over Fernley but the Vaqueros got revenge on the biggest stage.
Fernley dropped Fallon into the consolation bracket at state and then staged two seven-run comebacks to win the championship, denying Fallon of a three-peat. Fallon finished the year 26-13 after taking second in the Lahontan League.
But this season is just the beginning.
Both teams don’t lose many seniors and will be reloaded for an encore.
Junior Rileigh Ricken replaced Pinder this season and held her own in the circle but proved to be just as effective from the plate. Ricken was named the Lahontan League’s Most Valuable Player as 10 Fallon players were recognized.
Ricken led the team in batting average (.412), RBIs (44), doubles (18) and home runs (six).
Ricken posted a 3.18 ERA in 31 appearances and 165.1 innings, while freshman Miranda Ford pitched 59.2 innings.
“When I reflect on this season and look at it, I don’t think it’s any secret that our pitchers found too much of the plate sometimes,” Archer said. “That’s the maturity and getting a season under your belt. We’ll progress from that. We expect to improve on all three aspects of softball.”
Seniors Cady Cordes (first base) and Kaysee Archer (second base) along with freshmen outfielder Paige Thorne and utility player Megan McCormick were named to the first team.
Cordes, who will play volleyball in college, batted .333 with a home run and 18 RBIs, while Archer hit .357, scored 44 runs and doubled 10 times. Archer will play at WNC next spring.
Thorn and McCormick gave Fallon a glimpse of good things to come as the freshmen both hit above .300 and drove in 63 runs combined. McCormick, who hit .407, got hot during the postseason as she finished with six home runs.
Second-team selections consisted of junior Shelby Lawry (catcher), sophomore Ali Tedford (shortstop) and freshmen outfielders Kalyn Huckaby, Izzy Thomas and junior Gabby Sharpe.
Lawry, Tedford, Huckaby, Thomas and Sharpe were effective from the plate and will all return next season.
“We expect to bring back our same defense. We have to rebuild that right side,” coach Archer said about losing Cordes and his daughter at first and second. “We have quite a few girls who are going to be playing (in the summer) and are excited for softball.”