By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
Forget that Galena High came into the Northern 4A Regional Softball Tournament as the only team with a sub-.500 record.
The Grizzlies took advantage of the postseason's clean slate and established themselves as a Cinderella team as they knocked off Sierra League champion Reno 6-4 in 12 innings on Thursday, followed by a come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Spanish Springs Friday afternoon at Carson High.
And even after losing to McQueen 9-3 in the winners bracket final on Friday afternoon, Galena coach John Baker was upbeat about having the opportunity to join two other teams for the final day of the double elimination regional tournament.
You see, Galena came in with a 10-11 record and No. 4 High Desert seed. The Grizzlies had no intention of playing two games and then heading home.
"We weren't expected to do much, but the girls were determined to prove they deserved to be here," said Baker, whose Grizzlies play Spanish Springs at 10 a.m. today. "They came out and wanted it. They executed and did all the things they needed to do to get here."
Spanish Springs (31-8) stayed alive thanks to a 3-2 win over Douglas and 5-0 over Reed on Friday.
Galena started fast against McQueen (32-8) with three runs in the first inning. Megan Molinari and Kortney McKeon led off with singles, Jessie Wirth hit a two-run double to left field and Kelly Drury's single to center drove in a third run.
It still wasn't enough because the three-time High Desert League champion Lancers answered with five runs in the bottom half of the inning. Keri Noak delivered the key hit, a bases loaded double off the left field fence that drove all three runs home and gave the Lancers a 4-3 lead. Casey Donohue followed with a double to make it 5-3.
Galena loaded the bases in the second, but came away empty handed when Katelyn Porter lined a shot right at McQueen shortstop Sarah Hunt, who flipped the ball to Justine Fulton at third to complete the inning-ending double play. The Grizzlies also loaded the bases in the third, but failed to score as ace Katie Eshelman came in to pitch in relief and retired the side.
The Grizzlies didn't get another runner as far as second base until Katelyn Porter doubled in the seventh.
Molinari, McKeon and Drury collected two hits each to lead the Grizzlies offensively.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, Justine Sargent pitched three innings of scoreless relief to pick up her second win of the tournament as the Grizzlies rallied past Spanish Springs.
Galena scored twice in the sixth, capped by Drury's RBI double. The 3-2 lead was ample support for Sargent, who came on to pitch in the fifth. She allowed no runs on only two hits the rest of the way to slam the door shut.
Galena took a 1-0 lead against Spanish Springs ace Mallary Darby when Wirth drove a 1-0 pitch over left field fence for a home run.
Galena starter Danelle Moropolous pitched three innings of hitless ball before Spanish Springs struck for two runs on four hits in the fourth. Jen Martinsen singled one run home and Darby followed with another RBI single to give the Cougars their 2-1 lead.
Sargent came on to pitch in the fifth and got a big defensive play right off the bat when Drury made a diving catch in left field for the first out. The play was important because the next hitter, Devin Steelman, doubled off the left field fence. Galena got the second out moments later on a runner's interference call between second and third, then Sargent retired the side on a called strike three.
Galena answered with its game-winning rally in the top of the sixth. Eleni Saxton hit a leadoff single, took second on an error and scored on a Wirth single to tie the score at 2. With two outs and two runners aboard, Drury doubled to center field to drive the go-ahead run home, although a second run was cut down at the plate on a relay throw from shortstop Alex Arceniega.
Emily Fletcher and Wirth both hit 2-for-3 to lead Galena's seven-hit attack.
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