And now it is done. The fight is over. The Douglas Tigers came. They fought. In the end, they came up just short.
The Douglas High softball team dropped two games to Centennial on Saturday at Carson High as the Bulldogs won the NIAA 4A state title. After beating Douglas 13-2 in game one, Centennial beat the Tigers with a run in the bottom of the seventh 5-4 in the nightcap to win the state title.
Yes, the Tigers will have to think about what could have been. Four of Centennial's five runs were unearned and came on four Douglas errors. The other run only came because of UNLV-bound Shannon Crisp, who took a pitch that may have not even been in the strike zone well over the left centerfield fence.
Douglas also didn't take advantage of several scoring chances. But there's still no denying the heart of this team.
"It's been amazing," said Tiger senior Kaycee Wilcks about playing with her teammates. "All these girls are so wonderful. There's something special about every one of these girls. They're just awesome girls.
"We just played our hearts out. We did the best we could. We left it all out on the field. That's all we could do."
Typifying the effort of Douglas was Brittany Puzey, who gave a valiant effort in going the distance on the mound. "She threw a phenomenol game," Douglas coach Todd Wilcks said.
But in the end, Douglas couldn't overcome Crisp, who gave a performance for the ages. Crisp threw every pitch in all five games during Centennial's title run over the last two days, including three games on Saturday. "To have to go three games in a row, that's phenomenol," coach Wilcks said.
Crisp admitted she was tired, but kept the Tiger hitters off balance with her rise ball and changeup.
"I was exhausted," she said. "I just had to fool the hitters instead of overpowering them."
Crisp also has respect for Puzey. "Their pitcher was awesome," she said.
On offensive, Crisp hit four home runs on Saturday. In a 5-0 win over McQueen, Crisp pitched a complete game shutout and hit two home runs. In the 13-2 win over Douglas, Crisp hit a grand slam homer.
Centennial's winning rally in the seventh began on a borderline call. Puzey appeared to have Stefanie Lentz struck out on a 3-2 pitch, but the pitch was ruled inside.
"What?" Puzey screamed as she bent down with an anguished look that said it all. A sacrifice bunt moved Lentz to second and Crisp was intentionally walked for the third time. Tory Healy singled to load the bases. Douglas then couldn't field a groundball cleanly and Lentz beat the throw home to give the Bulldogs the state title.
Douglas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on Wilcks' double and Kayla Dunn's two-run double. But with runners at second and third and one out, the Tigers failed to score any more runs.
After an error, Crisp sent a 3-1 pitch over the left centerfield fence to tie the score 2-2.
The pitch that Crisp sent out was down and away from Puzey, but it didn't matter. "Even when we weren't pitching to her, she hit one out," coach Wilcks said. "I don't even think it was a strike."
"We were trying to keep everything away from her, basically trying to get her to get herself out. But you just miss by a hair... Our plan was to walk her every time she was up anyway."
Puzey intentionally walked Crisp in her next three at bats and Douglas could be second guessed for trying to pitch around her the first time instead of just intentionally walking her. "Would have, should have, could have," coach Wilcks said.
The Tigers took a 4-2 lead in the third when Kristy Olsen walked, Puzey singled and Stevie Smith followed with a two-run double. Centennial made it 4-3 in the fourth on a single, sacrifice bunt, error and fielder's choice.
Centennial tied it 4-4 in the fifth when a run on a dropped flyball. But with runners at second and third and one out, Puzey got out of the jam without any more damage on a popup and a grounder to shortstop Jessie Kizer, who made a nice pick on the short hop on the play.
In the sixth, Smith singled and moved to second on Missy Kaplan's sacrifice bunt. The inning ended when Kaitlin Crawford hit a shot to third in which the third baseman made a nice backhanded stop. Wilcks led off the seventh with a double, but Douglas couldn't take advantage.
In the first game with Centennial, Kellei Kizer, who had pitched brilliantly in two wins on Friday, allowed four runs over four innings. Centennial then broke the game open with six runs in the fifth to take a 10-0 lead, with Crisp's grand slam capping the rally.
Wilcks had three hits, Olsen had two hits, Dunn doubled, Stevie Smith had a hit and Val Smith added an RBI sacrifice fly.
Contact Charles Whisnand at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1214.