SOUTH TAHOE — Saturday’s softball game was an edge-of-the-seat nail biter.
In one of their closest games of the season, the Lady Wave won the Northern 3A regional championship against Fernley, 3-2.
After a scoreless first inning, Kayla Buckmaster hit a home run to put Fallon on the board. In the fifth inning, though, Fallon’s undefeated standing was in danger as Fernley’s Reese Jones hit a two-run home run to put the Lady Vaqueros ahead 2-1. Things looked grim for the Lady Wave in the bottom of the sixth, but back-to-back home runs by Buckmaster and Faith Cornmesser edged Fallon ahead for a win.
“Everybody played good, that’s about all we can expect,” said Fernley coach Diane Chapin.
Fallon coach Tammie Shemenski said it was a close game to the end. She attributed the near loss to one of her calls, where she signaled a player to go for a base where she was tagged out.
“It’s a lesson learned for me, to be sure,” Shemenski said. “But that’s what my team does; I pick them up, they pick me up.”
The day before, Fallon crushed its valley neighbor 15-0. Cornmesser scored Fallon’s first run in the second inning.
Then a magic turn around happened — Fallon’s bases were loaded and Hannah Hitchcock came to bat, sending the ball flying over the center field fence for a grand slam. 5-0.
“I knew it was really far, then the girl on second tagged up; so I was thinking she was going to catch it, but then it went way over,” Hitchcock said. “I was just so excited.”
With no outs, the Lady Wave rallied and nearly every batter scored until Cornmesser came back up. The inning came to a close 11-0.
The Lady Vaqueros were now in full recovery mode. Fallon was too charged from the second inning, though, and Buckmaster quickly dispatched their batters before Buckmaster, Cornmesser, Jordan Beyer and Staci Kalt scored the final runs to end the game.
“It was such a pivotal moment, when she hit that grand slam,” Shemenski said. “It was unbelievable, it was crazy momentum that pushed us just over the top where we couldn’t stop after that.”
Chapin added Fernley was a little flat for the game and weren’t able to last long enough to come back as a threat.
“It’s just one of those days,” she said. “Better to have one now than next week.”
Kalt and Cornmesser led the Wave with three runs each with Kalt adding four RBI. Hitchcock also had four RBI. Buckmaster and Beyer were just behind in runs with both scoring two with a single RBI.
Fallon won the first game of regionals 10-0 against South Tahoe. The Wave only scored one run in the first inning but came together for the second and third to overwhelmed the Lady Vikings’ defense for 5-run and 4-run innings respectively.
Buckmaster was pitcher of record for all three games. On Thursday, Alexis Jarrett led the team with two runs and three RBIs. Caitlyn Welch and Beyer matched her for runs with one RBI apiece.
Shemenski praised her player’s “don’t die” attitude. She recalled her team never gets down, even when they’re behind, and hold a positive view all the time. She said falling behind just fires them up to come back and win.
“It took everybody on this roster, every single person — from my (junior varsity) players to the people who are the field, to make these wins happen,” she said. “It’s a very proud coach moment to be sure.”
Hitchcock said the first two games of regionals were probably the best they’ve played all season. She said they stepped it up a notch, which she felt they needed to do.
The Lady Wave travels to Las Vegas Thursday for the first day of the Northern 3A state tournament. Fallon takes on Pahrump Valley’s Lady Trojans at Faith Lutheran High School at 4:30 p.m. Pahrump Valley stands 28-11 and 10-0 in league. Shemenski said she wants to see her team play like they always have.
“Let’s just keep doing what we do, and that’s winning games,” she said. “We do it together as a team, everybody stays humble; I couldn’t be prouder of these kids.”
Shemenski said their strategies have worked for them up to now and she plans to continue with them.
“We were just playing so good that game,” Hitchcock said. “The momentum was up and it was just there for me.”
Hitchcock said she’s excited for state this week. She said if they keep playing the way they have been, they can bring out another championship.
“It’s so amazing, knowing that we’re going to go twice and that we get another chance at it,” she said recalling going to state for basketball. “The first time was just so great, especially with this team. I love this team too and I’m just so excited for all of us.”