One inning was all that stood between the Carson High School softball team and survival in the Northern 4A Regional Tournament on Friday afternoon.
That fourth inning was a big one, though, because McQueen scored six runs to come from behind and pull out a 7-6 victory against the Senators in an elimination game at Carson High.
Carson saw a 5-1 lead vanish and along with it, saw the door slam shut on their season. But while the loss was disappointing, the Senators (19-15) made their presence known while winning one of three tournament games.
"I think we went further than a lot of people expected, and we hit better," said Sullivan, whose club came in as the Sierra League's No. 4 seed. "The kids worked hard this year and they've come a long way. This is a young group -- we started four freshmen and two sophomores today -- and they're only going to get better."
Carson enjoyed a 9-7 advantage in the hit column, led by Talia Joyce who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. The Senators committed two errors in the field, as compared to McQueen's six. But in the end, the Lancers won with a never-say die attitude.
The Senators took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning behind singles from freshmen Brittany Puzey and Kayla Dunn and an error. In the third, Bethany Henry singled and scored on a wild pitch and Joyce doubled into the right-center field gap to drive two runs home to make it 5-1.
McQueen came to life in the fourth. Katie Ward singled to lead off the inning, Jenny Drew walked with one out and Jessica Stewart reached on an error to load the bases. Megan Kaiser drove two runs home with a single and Melissa Fristed's bunt rolled along the third base line -- fair by inches -- to drive home a run that cut Carson's lead to 5-4. Freshman Sarah Hunt was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, then Michon Jeanney lined a two-out single into center field to give the Lancers their first lead of the game.
Carson added one more run in the sixth when Ariadne Gonzalez singled, advanced to second on an infield hit by sophomore Baylee Biber, and scored on an error.
The Senators threatened again in the seventh and might have scored if not for a catch McQueen pitcher Katie Ward made on Lindsay Farnworth's liner back up the middle.
"It looked like Farney's ball was going through and the girl makes the catch," Sullivan said. "That was a big play."
It looked even bigger after Lindsey Perondi and Joyce hit back-to-back singles with two outs, but then Ward rang up a strikeout to end the game.
Ward came on to pitch in relief with two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning and wound up as the winning pitcher. The senior allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked none.
Later in the day, McQueen remained as one of the tournament's final three teams with a come-from-behind 7-6 victory against Reno in eight innings. The Lancers scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score, aided by a run-scoring double from Drew. Then after Ward pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the eighth, the Lancers won it in the bottom half of the inning when Jeanney singled Hunt home with the go-ahead run.