Douglas High freshman Talia Tretton turns on a ball during a contest against McQueen earlier this season. Tretton is hitting .400 in her first varsity season with the Tigers with two home runs, five doubles and 13 RBIs.
Photo by Ron Harpin.
Coming into this condensed spring season, most coaches around the area weren’t sure what they were going to see on the softball diamond.
Douglas High head coach John Glover knew he had some pop in a bat behind the plate after Ryleigh Blaire – now a junior – hit three home runs in her freshman season in 2019.
Blaire’s presence at the plate was something he expected, but her ability to meld together and grow with a freshman pitcher in the circle has allowed Douglas to take the next step.
Their relationship isn’t new as Talia Tretton, Douglas’ freshman hurler, has thrown to Blaire behind the plate in travel ball.
“I’ve known her a really long time and we’ve always been on the field together,” said Blaire. “When (Tretton) came up to varsity, it was like nothing had changed.”
For coach Glover, seeing that connection and the results that have followed have propelled the Tigers to the No. 3 team in Northern Nevada Class 5A.
Sitting at 10-4 on the year, Blaire is one of the more electric hitters to watch in the north with home run power to all angles of the field.
The junior homered in four of her first six games this season before launching a walk-off homer against Spanish Springs, now 13-1 overall, to hand the Cougars their only loss this season.
Through 14 games, Blaire has 20 hits and has driven in 19 runs for the Tigers along with her six homers, which is the second most in Class 5A this season.
In the field, the junior backstop said she and Tretton have clicked exactly how she expected.
“I know Tal as a pitcher. She hits her spots and works hard,” said Blaire. “I knew that was going to help us go far.”
Tretton, who says she has a six-pitch mix, hasn’t had many problems hitting her spots in her first season.
Through 67 innings of work, Tretton has 113 strikeouts and a 2.51 earned run average (ERA).
The 113 punch outs is the most in Nevada thus far and her ERA is third among pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings this season.
“I love pitching. It’s my life,” said Tretton. “I definitely have a lot to keep working on.”
The freshman pitcher admitted she has dealt with some anxieties pre-game, but as she continues firing in the circle, those nerves become less and less apparent to anyone in the batter’s box.
“I still do get nervous when I see teams I’ve faced twice already,” said Tretton. “I definitely think that I’m approaching getting to where I should be, but I’m still working on it.”
Blaire is a workhorse behind the plate, noting she has had no problems catching multiple games in a row on a scorching hot weekend during summer softball.
Her consistency behind the plate has helped the two be catalysts in Douglas’ 10-4 record so far.
“Ryleigh is very good at what she does. She has to be a leader of the infield and she’s very good at doing that,” said Tretton. “Both of us, along with our defense, work really well together. Our defense is really strong.”
Tretton doesn’t just send hitters back to the dugout.
Offensively, the freshman has been hitting in the No. 3 spot in the Tiger lineup while posting a .400 batting average and 13 RBIs.
“It’s pretty rare that a freshman comes in and pitchers most innings, and hits third in the lineup,” Glover said. “She’s been one of the bright spots in the lineup. I guess the offensive part has been more surprising to me than her in the circle.”
The coaching staff may not have known exactly what they had in their pitcher-catcher duo coming into this season.
At 10-4, the Tigers will likely be the No. 3 seed heading into the regional play.
Even if this season may be a bit of a surprise for Douglas softball, the growing dynamics of the duo will give the rest of Northern Nevada a lot to worry about next season as well.