BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Staff Writer
MINDEN - Douglas High's softball team showed why it is a heavy favorite to win the Sierra League softball pennant.
Hard-throwing Brittany Puzey struck out seven and pitched a no-hitter, and Valerie Smith slammed a two-run homer to lead the heavily favored Tigers to a 10-0 win over arch-rival Carson Tuesday afternoon in the league opener for both teams.
The game was stopped in the bottom of the sixth because of the 10-run rule.
"It was a very good way to start the season," Douglas coach Todd Wilcks said. "We swung the bats pretty well. We got hits in crucial situations, and we hadn't really done that recently.
"Brittany pitched a great game. She hasn't thrown that much this year, and she's just going to get better and better. She's probably throwing 75 percent of her ability right now. It's a matter of her getting innings on the rubber."
That's a scary thought. How do you improve from a no-hit effort where only four batters reached base?
"I'm still immature as a pitcher," said Puzey, who helped herself at the plate with two hits and two RBI. "I need to be warm. It usually takes an inning or more to get going. It's one of those things I need to work on. I didn't know I had a no-hitter. I just didn't want to give up any runs."
The first and sixth innings were the only times Carson came close to getting a run. The Senators stranded two runners in each of those innings.
In the first, Katie Davis reached on an error by first baseman Kayla Dunn, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on Liz Rankl's roller to second. Dacey Hassey walked and stole second, but Puzey fanned the dangerous Lindsay Farnworth and Jessica Grant to end the threat.
In the sixth, Carson put runners on first and second with one out. Hassey forced Rankl, who had walked at second, and Farnworth struck out.
"That first inning set the tone," Carson coach Scott Vickrey said. "We get our leadoff hitter to second with no outs and didn't score. I considered bunting Liz, but she's been hitting the ball well so I let her swing away. We needed to hit the ball today."
The two strikeouts started a string of 15 straight batters that Puzey retired, and only one ball left the infield all day. Third baseman Stevie Smith had four assists, and made two nice stops in the middle four innings.
Carson's Mandy Carvin pitched two scoreless innings before running into problems in the third.
After one out, Kaycee Wilcks (2-for-4) doubled to left. Kristy Olsen followed with a ground ball that was misplayed by third baseman Davis, who then unsuccessfully tried to catch Wilcks off second. Wilcks scored on a passed ball. Olsen, who moved around to third on the wild pitch and infield out, scored easily when Dunn, who had walked, broke for second. Rankl was unable to retire Dunn before Olsen crossed the plate.
Valerie Smith followed with the Tigers' hardest-hit ball of the game, a towering drive that easily cleared the fence in left, scoring Dunn and making it 4-0.
Carvin settled down, and threw two scoreless innings before the Tigers' bats got rolling again.
After Valerie Smith was hit by a pitch, Stevie Smith singled to center. Jessie Kizer doubled to right, scoring Valerie Smith and sending Stevie Smith to third. Carvin got two straight outs, but Wilcks' roller up the middle scored Kizer to make it 7-0. After Olsen walked, Puzey hit a two-run double to left, and Dunn singled to right to end the game.
All told, Douglas scored five runs after two outs, and that was a big reason why the Tigers won. Douglas got 11 hits, but several were bloops or balls that seemed to find an open spot. Dunn, Kizer, Puzey and Wilcks led the offense with two hits apiece.
"They're so deep throughout the lineup," Vickrey said. "Brittany did a great job. She worked the ball inside and outside. We've been hitting well, but we didn't hit the ball off her.
"I thought Mandy pitched well. We made a couple of errors, and when you play a high- caliber team (like Douglas) the errors are magnified."
Contact Darrell Moody at 881-1281.