Nicole Freeman pitched a three-hit shutout as Carson High School opened its Northern 4A softball doubleheader with a 3-0 conquest of Reed on Saturday afternoon.
The Senators were unable to carry over their momentum, however, as Reed came back to take an 8-3 victory in game two and salvage a split between teams that could meet in next month's zone tournament.
Carson stands fifth in the conference standings with its 14-6 record, one game behind fourth-place Reed (13-5). Those positions are significant, since the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds will play in the first round of the zone tournament May 11-13 at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex in Sparks.
"These games are all important now. We can't afford any losses now," Carson coach John Sullivan said. "We played well in the first game. Reed came back and hit the ball well in the second game and we weren't able to take advantage of some of the scoring opportunities we had."
Freeman was impressive in the opener, as she scattered three hits, walked two and struck out four. The senior right-hander was in trouble once but escaped from a bases loaded jam in the fourth on a ground ball out.
"Nicole threw real well," Sullivan said. "Our early season plan seems to be working out well. Last year we threw a lot early - at this point in the season she was something like 12-1 - but by the time we got to zone, she was starting to get tired and everybody had seen her a lot."
Brandi Cotroneo singled two runs home to put Carson on top in the first inning. Kendra Carlsen doubled and scored on an error in the second to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.
In game two, sophomore Whitney Smith threw a complete game seven-hitter and the Raiders scored five runs in the seventh to break open a close struggle.
Amber Nessman's two-run double in the third inning gave Reed a 2-0 lead.
Carson threatened in the fifth when Amanda Hoff singled and Carlsen doubled into the gap in left-center. Vicki Parsons reached on an infield hit to score Hoff and put runners on first and third. But then a double steal attempt backfired when Parsons was thrown out at second and then a grounder to first retired the side with potential tying run stranded at third.
"We work on that play at least once a week - we'll give up a run for an out - but their shortstop made a great play on the throw to get Vicki," Sullivan said. "Maybe we ought to be more conservative in that situation, but sometimes you've gotta go out and make things happen."
As it turned out, Reed pulled away with five runs in the seventh, keyed by Adrienne Shafer's RBI single plus a bases loaded bunt by Daisy Gainor that scored three runs when the throw to first base sailed into right field.
Notes ... Wooster remained unbeaten in conference and took over sole possession of first-place by sweeping Reno in a doubleheader, 6-1 and 5-2 ... Reno is second with its 14-3 record, followed by Galena at 14-4 ... Carson travels to Las Vegas today and begins play in the Clark High School Easter tournament Monday with a 1 p.m. contest against Santana High School (from Santee, Calif., in the San Diego area).