It's as about a tough of a way to open a season against one's arch rival who has aspirations of winning a state title.
But as the Carson High softball team saw it, there was no better way to open the season. At least now the Senators know where they stand.
Douglas, the defending state runner-up who obviously has a goal of improving on that finish this year, came away with a 7-2 win on Tuesday in the Sierra League opener at Carson. But the Senators didn't come away discouraged.
"Douglas set the mark where we have to be at the end of the season," Carson coach Scott Vickory said. "We know where we have to be."
Brittany Puzey took a one-hit shutout in the seventh inning and settled for the complete game win after the Senators rallied for two runs. Kayla Dunn also hit a mammoth two-run home run for Douglas that effectively broke the game open. Mandy Carvin also pitched a complete game for Carson, allowing three earned runs.
The Senators put themselves in a hole in the first when Carvin hit Lauren Hoppe and Puzey. Then after there were two outs with the wind and the sun, Carson was unable to make the play on two popups, leading to two errors that allowed Douglas to take a 3-0 lead.
"We had a couple of bad breaks at the beginning," Vickory said. "That put us b ehind the eight-ball right away. I thought take away the first inning and we're head-to-head."
The closest Carson came to scoring against Puzey was in the first and fourth innings. Liz Rankl walked and reached third on a wild pitch and throwing error, but was left stranded in the first. In the fourth Jessica Ashbaugh walked, went to second on a throwing error and advanced to third on a wild pitch with one out. But Puzey got a strikeout and a popup to escape the jam.
Douglas didn't have anything going after the first, with the exception of Amanda Running Wolf's single in the second. But Dacey Hassey threw out Running Wolf trying to steal second.
But in the fifth, Puzey walked and Dunn followed by sitting back on an off speed pitch and sent it well over the left field fence for a 5-0 lead. Candice Rutledge broke up Puzey's no-hitter with a single in the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, Hoppe and Puzey singled and Smith had an RBI single to make it 6-0. Another run scored on an error to make it 7-0.
But the Senators didn't give up in the bottom of the seventh. Jessica Grant singled and scored on Jamie Yenter's single. Robyn Conn then singled and Rankle followed with an RBI single.
Rutledge then sent a groundball up the middle that appeared to be heading to center field for another RBI single. But shortstop Jessie Kizer made an outstanding play to snag the ball and touch second base for the force out to end the game.
It was originally ruled that Kizer hadn't touched second, but after the umpires conferred they changed the ruling. "We didn't quit, did we?" Vickory said. "At the end we were starting to see the light."
Vickory said he was impressed with both pitchers. "Puzey pitched a great game," he said. "Mandy threw great. I was happy with her. We're going to ride her pretty heavily this year."
Douglas coach Jim Puzey was also pleased with her daughter's performance. "I thought she had a very good outing this time of the year," he said. I thought she had great stuff.
That's a pretty good team," coach Puzey also said about Carson. "That team will win games this year."
Smith had two hits, including a double and Skylar Zulian added a hit for Douglas. Carson's next game is at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at home against Manogue.