Maybe it's exactly what the Carson High softball team needed. Or maybe it was the worst thing that could have happened to Carson.
Either Dayton's MacKenzie Cole put the Senators into a slump heading into their Sierra League-opening showdown at Douglas on Thursday. Or Cole gave Carson exactly the tough pitching it needed to face heading into Thursday. The answer obviously won't be revealed until Thursday.
Thanks to the pitching of Cassie Vondrak - who was just as outstanding as Cole - Carson made two first inning runs stand up and held on to a 2-1 win over the Dust Devils on Tuesday at CHS.
Vondrak retired the first 12 batters she faced and went on to earn the complete-game, pitching a two-hitter while striking out four, walking none and hitting a batter. "Cassie pitched phenomenal," Carson coach Scott Vickrey said.
Cole also went the distance, allowing five hits while striking out 11, walking two and hitting a batter over six innings.
"I don't know," said Vickrey when asked how Cole's performance would affect his team's hitting on Thursday.
Vickrey said his team is a streaky hitting club. "In Sac (Sacramento) I know we had periods where we hit the ball," said Vickrey, commenting on this past weekend's tournament near Sacramento.
"We've got to be a little more disciplined at the plate and a little more selective with our pitches."
But Vickrey gave a great deal of credit to Cole, who is just a freshman, but already loooks to be one of Northern Nevada's top pitchers on any level. And Vickrey also praised the entire Dayton team.
"Their pitcher did a great job," Vickrey said. "I'm real impressed. I've got a feeling they're going really far."
Dayton coach Dusti Houk also has high hopes for her team in the Northern 3A race. With the additions of freshmen Cole and catcher Natasha Wells to go along with a strong returning nucleus, Houk said she believes her team can be among the top challengers along with defending NIAA 3A State champion Fernley, who also returns a strong nucleus.
"They're always going to be the team to beat," said Houk about Fernley. "They didn't lose many players.
"But I believe we'll be right up there with them. I expect us to be right there in the thick of things."
Carson took a 2-0 lead in the first after Christa Casci and Abby Rankl each singled. Both moved up on fielder's choice. Casci scored on a passed ball and Rankl scored on an error on the play.
In the second, Krista Mattice was hit by a pitch, Katie McEwan walked and Christa Casci singled to load the bases with two outs, but Cole escaped the jam. In the third, Keller led off with a triple. But Cole got Vondrak to hit a grounder to Nicole Iractcabal at third, who threw to the plate to nail Keller.
In the fifth after Carson couldn't handle a wind-blown popup in foul territory, Brittany Hill reached on an infield single. Hill moved to second and third on two groundouts and then Mariah Collins hit a flyball to shallow center field for a hit to make it 2-1.
"I was very pleased with the way she threw," said Houk about Cole. "She had good movement on the ball and good location."
Vickrey said Cole reminded him of a pitcher he had a few years ago. "She reminds me a lot of Mandy Carvin," he said.
Casci had two hits and Vondrak added a double for Carson (5-1). "We've got a big, tough game against Douglas," Vickrey said. "We're going to face some good pitching and they're going to have some bats as well."
CHS JVS 13, DAYTON 3
Lauren Knorzer went 3-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a double, Lindsay Burroughs was 3-for-3 with a double, Marissa Lucido scored two runs, Natalie Morrow and Megan Hein each had a hit, run, Lisa Yamamoto had a hit and two runs and Marcela Watson had a hit and a run. Morrow struck out three over three innings and Kristina Gallegos struck out three over two innings.