The Carson High softball team found out it need to play about as close to perfect as possible if it wants to join the upper echelon of Northern 4A clubs.
Carson (13-1) played well, but made its share of mistakes in a 7-5 loss to Reed on Tuesday at home in a showdown between two teams who hope to go deep into the Northern 4A playoffs. The game should have served as excellent preparation for a key Sierra League three-game series with Reno High, which begins at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Reno.
"They played great," said Carson coach Scott Vickrey about Reed. "We played good ball. We didn't play perfect."
The Senators failed to execute in two bunt situations - popping up into an inning-ending double play in one of them - and also had another runner picked off base.
"We didn't execute the bunt very well," Vickrey said. "We made some baserunning mistakes. That cost us some times to the plate."
Still the Senators were back in the game when Cassie Vondrak, who went the distance on the mound, crused a three-run home run well over the leftcenter field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning that cut Reed's lead to 4-3.
Abby Rankl reached on an error and Dacey Hassey walked, bringing Vondrak to the plate. Vondrak swung and missed at two high fastballs, but saw another high fastball to her liking and sent it over the left centerfield fence.
But Reed responded by scoring three runs in the seventh to take a 7-3 lead. Vondrak was able to keep Carson in the game after Reed had already scored three runs with the bases loaded and no outs. Vondrak induced a popup and struck out the next two batters to escape the jam without any further damage. Carson rallied in the bottom of the seventh when Sarah Evans singled and Kaitline Burroughs doubled. Evans scored on a fielder's choice and Rankl walked to give the Senators runners at first and third with two outs.
That brought Dacey Hassey to the plate as the tying run. Hassey nearly tied the game with a three-run shot, but appeared her drive was knocked down by the wind just enough. Hassey settled for an RBI double off the right center fence to make it 7-5 and give Carson runners at second and third.
Vondrak then came up as the winning run. But Vondrak wasn't given anything good to hit this time and she struck out to end the game. "That was just tough to come back against a great team," Vickrey said.
Reed took a 1-0 lead in the first on two hits and made it 2-0 in the fourth on back-to-back doubles. Carson didn't pick up its first hit until there was one out in the third when Evans singled. But Evans was wiped out on one of the popped up bunts that ended up as a double play.
"It took us about three or four innings to adjust," Vickrey said. "Then we started to get into it."
Hassey and Evans each had two hits and Rankl and Christa Casci each added a hit for Carson.