For the second straight season, Douglas High will be playing for the Class 5A North regional softball championship.
The feat comes behind 3-0 and 11-0 shutout wins over Spanish Springs and Reed, respectively.
An 11-0 win in six innings over the Raiders in the regional semifinal qualified the Tigers for the Class 5A state tournament.
Saturday, Douglas will play for that Class 5A North regional crown against the winner of Reed and Spanish Springs, who will play in the consolation semifinal.
First pitch in the championship game is expected at noon at Carson High School.
Tigers tie record mark
Behind a one-hit shutout from junior Talia Tretton in the circle, Douglas was able to continue teeing off at the plate.
In the championship-clinching game, the Tigers tallied 13 hits and three home runs.
Cam McClelland started the record-tying barrage with a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to make it 5-0 Tigers.
The next inning, Bre Williams demolished a grand slam to center field in which Douglas took a 9-0 lead.
Zora Simpson ended the game in the bottom of the sixth and made history with the team’s 60th home run of the season.
It was Simpson’s ninth home run of the season.
The game-ending homer marked the team’s 60th home run of the season, which ties an NIAA state record for home runs in a single season.
The record was set by Palo Verde in 2017 in 43 games.
Simpson’s blast came in the Tigers’ 33rd game of the season.
“It’s insane. It just shows how good of a hitting team we are as a collective group,” said Tretton of tying record.
In the circle, Tretton fanned nine and allowed one hit, continuing the Tigers’ pitching staff dominance.
She was also 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI double in the first.
“It’s nice to be able to do it a second time with my teammates and my family,” said Tretton on making it to state, “and it’s nice that it’s here.”
The Class 5A state tournament will be held at Christina M. Hixon Park at the University of Nevada, Reno.
(Mackenzie Willis winds up to deliver a pitch during her shutout performance against Spanish Springs in the second round of the Class 5A North regional softball tournament. / Ron Harpin)
Willis shuts out Spanish Springs
There were a couple of moments where the Cougars threatened to score Friday afternoon against top-seeded Douglas in the second round of the Class 5A North regional tournament.
Nearly all of those chances ended with Douglas’ starting pitcher, Mackenzie Willis, fist-pumping and heading back to the dugout with a strikeout.
In fact, Willis fanned 13 Cougar hitters in total while allowing four hits and two walks.
There were only two innings that didn’t end with a Willis punch out.
The seventh was one of those innings, but that’s because Willis fanned the first two batters of the inning.
The last out of the contest was a routine pop fly to center.
“I was pretty confident the whole time. I was just trying to trust what I had and that my team was there for me,” said Willis. “Just trusting my spin.”
The third inning was the other.
Spanish Springs sacrificed over a runner to second after a one-out single.
With two down, Willis induced a hard ground ball to shortstop Haley Wilkinson.
The junior dove to her right, fielding the ball deep in the hole while laying on her stomach, turned over to a knee and gunned out the Cougar hitter at first base.
“That was where the energy shifted. We were going to step on the gas and we were going to get the energy going from that,” said Willis.
Wilkinson was also 2-for-3 at the plate.
Douglas’ offense didn’t produce a run until the fourth inning, but the Tigers didn’t need much with Willis dealing.
Ava Delaney led off the bottom of the fourth with a single to left before back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Dakota Till.
The senior third baseman singled to shallow left, scoring Delaney and giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Bre Williams drew a bases loaded walk for the second run of the frame.
In the fifth, Talia Tretton doubled off the wall in center field to score Wilkinson from second base, giving the Tigers its 3-0 lead.
This season Willis holds a 1.54 ERA in 81.2 innings of work while Tretton counters with a 1.72 ERA in 105.2 innings pitched.
The duo have combined for 309 strikeouts, 103 hits allowed and 44 earned runs.
(Douglas High's Talia Tretton delivers a pitch against Reed in the Class 5A North regional semifinals. Tretton allowed one hit and struck out nine in the Tigers' 11-0 win. / Ron Harpin)