Perfection was a goal the Carson High School softball team tried to achieve on Wednesday.
Aided by some extra work in the batting cage and a reshuffled lineup, plus a sterling pitching performance by Mandy Carvin, the Senators came close to getting their perfect game en route to a 10-0 Sierra League victory at home against South Tahoe on a cold and windy afternoon.
Candice Rutledge went 3-for-4 and seven different players contributed to a 13-hit attack as Carson evened its league record at 1-1 (2-3-1 overall) with what amounted to a key win.
"We tried to play up today," Vickrey said. "We wanted to play to our level, so we set our goals high. We wanted to play a perfect game with no mental mistakes and no errors in the field. We've been playing good ball, it just seems like we've been making one or two mistakes that jump up and bite us."
Unlike two games last week when the Senators dropped their league opener 7-2 against Douglas, and then lost 7-1 against Bishop Manogue after giving up six runs in the sixth, there were relatively no lapses against South Tahoe (0-3, 1-6).
Carvin pitched two-hit ball over six innings, struck out nine and walked none. The Senators only committed one error in the field and they erased two base runners - second baseman Jamie Yenter caught a line drive and doubled a runner off first base in the second inning and catcher Dacey Hassey threw out a runner attempting to steal second in the third.
"We were really excited," Carvin said. "We pretty much did all the things we wanted to do. We really needed to win today. We had one loss in league already and coach Vickrey told us if we want to go to zone, we have to start winning."
Vickrey was especially pleased with the team's improved offense.
"The bats are getting better," he said. "Our last practice, that's basically what we worked on. We put them on the machine and noticed that they weren't tracking the ball like they should. They looked a lot better up there today."
Freshman Christa Casci was also inserted into the leadoff spot in the batting order, Rutledge into the No. 2 spot and Abby Rankl dropped to No. 3. Casci went 1-for-2 with a run scored and one sacrifice; Rutledge had three hits, including a double and two runs scored; and Rankl went 2-for-3. Hassey and Jessica Ashbaugh collected two hits each from the No. 4 and 5 spots. Jessica Grant also went 2-for-3 and freshman Kaitlin Burroughs came in as a late substitute for Casci and hit a long RBI double to left field that ended the game on the 10-run rule in the sixth.
"Christa did a good job getting on base and getting us started," Vickrey said. "With Christa and Candice, we have a lot of speed at the top of the order. And by putting Robyn Conn in the No. 9 spot, that gives us three fast runners in a row."
Casci led off the first inning with a sharply-hit infield single, stole second and scored when Rutledge lined a double into the left-center field gap. Rutledge scored on a wild pitch to give Carson a 2-0 lead.
Conn walked in the second, advanced to second on Casci's sacrifice bunt and scored on Rankl's two-out single to center. In the third, Hassey hit a leadoff single, moved all the way to third on Ashbaugh's sacrifice bunt and scored when Rankl's infield pop fly was misplayed. Rankl scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0.
"The kids executed well today," Vickrey said. "When we needed to get a bunt down, when we needed to make a play, we did it."
And that was all the support needed by Carvin, who never allowed a base runner to get as far as second base and retired 11 of the last 12 batters she faced.
"She threw very well," South Tahoe coach Rich Barna said of Carson's senior right-hander. "She has improved a lot since last year. Her location with the fastball was very good and she was throwing her change for strikes. She really kept us off balance."
Indy Lacayo singled in the second inning and Shaylene McLaughlin singled in the third to account for South Tahoe's hits.
"I was hitting my spots," Carvin said. "I was throwing the pitches I needed, and my defense played well behind me."
There were some rays of light even in defeat for South Tahoe. For one, the score was an improvement after losing both ends of a league double header at Reno on Saturday, 20-0 and 16-1. For another, and even more important, the Vikings got to play on a day when more than a foot of snow fell back home - on a home field that may well be covered by a white blanket for the entire season.
"We still had a few mistakes and mental miscues, but we did play better," Barna said. "We just have to keep working and wait until we can get out on our field. With all the snow we had today, I wasn't even sure we were going to get this game in.
"This is better than practice inside a gym. A lot better," he added with a smile.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.