Even though she had already struck out twice on the day, Lindsey Rollins remained confident when she found herself down two strikes on the count and Douglas High School trailing arch rival Carson 1-0 on the scoreboard in the fifth inning.
Rollins simply took a deep breath and smoked the next pitch into the right-center field gap for a triple that drove two runs home and put the Tigers on track to a 9-1 Sierra League victory on Tuesday afternoon.
Douglas scored three runs in the fifth and then added insurance with six more runs in the seventh to put away a win that improved its league record to 13-3.
It wasn't a critical win for the Tigers, who had already clinched second-place in the league. Nevertheless, coach Rick Smith felt it was an important win for a team that is now 23-9 overall for the season, with seven of those losses having been decided by one run.
"This is crunch time and I want to go in on a high note," Smith said, referring to the Northern 4A Regional Tournament next week in Carson City.
Rollins felt the same way when she came up to hit in the fifth. Tasha McCann reached base on an error with one out to start the Douglas rally. Allie Walling reached on a slow chopper to the left side for a base hit. Then after an infield pop fly for the second out, Rollins stepped up and missed the first two pitches she saw from Carson freshman Brittany Puzey.
"I wasn't having a very good day, but I knew I had to come through for my team," the senior shortstop said. "I saw Puzey take a deep breath, so I knew I had to relax, too. I took a deep breath and saw the pitch coming and I just hit it."
After Rollins tripled, she came home to make it 3-1 when freshman catcher Valerie Smith followed with a double into right-center.
From Carson's point of view, it was a case of giving the Tigers too many opportunities.
"We should have been out of that inning with a 1-0 lead," Carson coach John Sullivan said, referring to the three unearned runs. "We've got to be able to make the plays, but the softball gods weren't smiling on us today.
"Give us another week, maybe the softball gods will be smiling on us and we'll make those plays," he added with a smile.
The Senators took their 1-0 lead in the second inning when Bethany Henry lined a single over shortstop and scored on Baylee Biber's two-out double. With two strikes on the count, Biber fouled off five of six pitches and then hit a drive off the fence.
"We brought Balee up from the junior varsity at Easter when we needed a second catcher and she's played real well," Sullivan said of the sophomore catcher. "She's been hitting well and she's done a nice job behind the plate."
The Senators only had four base runners the rest of the way against sophomore pitcher Katie Pagen (12-3). Pagen pitched a five-hitter with six strikeouts and two walks as she won her second second decision against Carson this season.
Just as important, the Tigers played errorless defense in the field. Fourteen putouts were handled by the infield, including a 1-4-3 double play Pagen, Walling and Stevie Smith collaborated on in the sixth inning.
"This was an important win to us," Rollins said. "I'm glad we pulled together as a team and pulled it out."
Ashley Hartley doubled two runs home while Jodi Gonzales and Kelly McKinnon came off the bench to hit RBI doubles during the Tigers' six-run seventh inning rally.
Carson fell to 9-7 (17-12 overall) and fourth-place in league, one game behind 10-6 Reno in the standings. The Senators can finish third with a sweep of their 2 p.m. doubleheader Friday at home against Reno.