The Fernley Vaqueros claimed second Saturday in the 3A state softball championships at Rancho San Rafael, losing to the Pahrump Valley Lady Trojans 11-1.
Fernley advanced to the championship round with a 7-3 nine inning come from behind victory over Bishop Manogue in the early game. The loss was the second time in the tournament that Pahrump had beaten Fernley by 10 runs, having won the first game Friday 10-0.
Fernley coach Diane Chapin praised the Pahrump squad. "There are a lot of good players in 3A, but as a team, they're the best. They're solid."
The Lady Trojans jumped on the Vaqueros early, scoring three runs in the first on two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman. "It was deja vu from yesterday, only it came earlier," Chapin said.
Fernley's only run came in the top of the second. Wali Querta was safe on an error, and Heather Matthews bunted her over to second. Nikki Wheeler then hit a chopper to Sara Coleman, the Trojan pitcher. Her throw was high to first and ended up in right field, allowing Querta to score. Pahrump added four more runs in the second on three consecutive singles and several Fernley throwing errors before Michelle Dannenberger lined out to C. J. Andrews at second who threw to first for the 4-3 double play to end the inning.
Pahrump scored four more times in the bottom of the third. A single, an error, and another single loaded the bases. Catcher Nikki Wheeler's pick off throw to second sailed high and into center, allowing two runs to score. Veronica Villa hit a hard liner that was just off the top of right fielder Hilary Wortman' glove. Villa raced around to third before the Vaqueros got the ball back in.
Villa scored on a passed ball to the next batter, and the score stood at 11-1 after three innings. Coach Chapin then made a pitching change, bringing in freshman Matthews to replace senior Wali Querta, who had pitched all 26 innings of the tournament.
"I think maybe she did get a litlle tired. Maybe I should have put the freshman in earlier, but we had to change our defense, and they're not real comfortable playing behind a freshman," Chapin said.
Querta went to short, shortstop Kaylea Dunn moved behind the plate, and catcher Nikki Wheeler went to first to replace Matthews. The move seemed to work, as Fernley held Pahrump to its first scoreless inning of the game. The Vaqueros couldn't capitalize, however, going three up and three down in the top of the fifth to give the Lady Trojans of Pahrump Valley the 10-run win and the 3A state crown.
Chapin was philosophic after the loss. "Second doesn't feel so bad. This is the furthest this group has gone, and only the second time a team from Fernley has made it this far," Chapin said. Fernley finished second in 1998.
Perhaps Fernley's championship came earlier in the elimination round game. After spotting arch rival Bishop Manogue three runs in the first, the Vaqueros held the Miners scoreless for the final eight in route to a 7-3 win.
Manogue scored three in the bottom of the first on three hits, and three errors, before Querta struck out Cassandra Gonzales on a called third strike with the bases loaded. Manogue got runners to third in the second and fifth and loaded the bases in the eighth, but couldn't score again as the Fernley defense woke up. The Vaquero offense, meanwhile, kept pecking away.
Querta singled in the first to drive in Dunn from second. Querta's single to right scored Brittany Stovall from second in the third.
Wheeler drove a liner down the left field line in the top of the sixth for a stand-up triple. Quin Hull-Taylor followed with a double to right to tie the score. Then came the big inning.
After two batters struck out to start the ninth, Dunn' s grounder found the hole between short and third. Amanda Renslow followed with a single. Querta then hit a shot that went under the third baseman and up the left field line, scoring Dunn and Renslow. The freshman Matthews hit a long ball to right center, scoring Querta and ending up on third with a triple. She scored when the Manogue shortstop couldn't find the handle on Wheeler's grounder. A strikeout ended the inning.
Manogue's Tara Banks made her way to second on a single and a wild pitch, but was called out for runner interference on a ground ball to short after running into Fernley's short stop. Ramsey popped out to Andrews at second, and Powell grounded out to Lysanna Davis at third to end the game.
"Yeah, it was satisfying," Chapin said of the win. "Manogue knocked us out last year, and Spring Creek did it the year before, so yeah, it felt good."
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