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Thomas Ranson
Lady Wave slugger Megan McCormick leads the Fallon softball team into today's first round against Lowry at the Northern Division I-A softball regional tournament at Dayton High School.
Steve Puterski / LVN | LVN

Northern DI-A softball tournament

The Northern Division I-A softball tournament is today and Saturday at Dayton High School.

Fallon plays at noon today in the double-elimination event. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for seniors 62 and older. Children 8 and under are free.

They’ve been in this position before. In fact, it was worse last year.

The Lady Wave softball team continues its quest to defend last year’s state title when Fallon, the No. 2 seed, takes on third-seeded Lowry today at noon in the first round of the Division I-A Northern regional tournament at Dayton High School.

“It’s a whole new season. The kids are looking at is as starting fresh,” said third-year coach Bill Archer, who picked up his first state title as a head coach last year after winning two as an assistant.

Fallon, which won last year’s regional tournament as the No. 3 seed, enters the 2015 postseason on a six-game winning streak after sweeping South Tahoe in a road series to conclude a 21-3 league slate.

The Lady Wave lost only one series this season, to cross-valley rival Fernley, as they won two of three at Lowry in March and swept Elko, the No. 4 seed who faces Fernley at 10 a.m. today to begin the tournament.

While each team poses a threat this weekend with two state berths on the line, Archer expects a tough tournament. Both Lowry and Elko are scrappy teams capable of pulling off an upset, while Fernley is as strong as in previous years. Lowry was the No. 2 seed last year and lost to Fallon in the opener of last year’s regional tournament.

“When we played them, we lost on a Friday and then had a doubleheader on Saturday and Buck (Kayla Buckmaster) pitched both games. We were a different team,” Archer said about the Lowry series last month. “They have a very scrappy squad. They play decent defense and are a good competitor.”

Fallon swept Elko this year but Archer is aware that the Indians cannot be overlooked, like the rest of the tournament field.

“Elko’s the fourth-seed team that’s in the playoffs. They’re going to be scrappy,” Archer said. “I don’t think you can look past or underestimate anyone in these four spots. You come in there and compete with your game and hope that when the dust settles, your team is victorious.”

One thing that cannot be overlooked is Fallon’s experience.

The Lady Wave have won three of the last four state championships, with a runner-up finish two years ago in Southern Nevada when Fernley came back from a late deficit to snatch away the state title.

“You’ve played in the state games before and you know what it’s like,” Archer said. “The pressure, the kids look forward to it. You prepare for it. You’ve been in that spot before regardless. As far as pressure, it just depends on how you deal with it. Only two (teams) get to go (to state). It’s equal for everybody.”

Even without last year’s savior in the pitching circle en route to the state championship, Fallon began its defense on a strong note by notching a win in its first meeting with Fernley. Aside from the consecutive losses to the Vaqueros, Fallon has been nearly unstoppable. And during the regular-season finale last weekend at Lake Tahoe, Fallon revealed another weapon in the circle to complement sophomore ace Kayla Buckmaster.

Freshman Faith Cornmeser was promoted off the junior varsity squad and dazzled in her varsity debut against the Vikings. In 7 1/3 innings, Cornmesser allowed only one earned run and struck out 12 of the 32 batters she faced.

Along with Cornmesser, Archer has juniors Miranda Ford and Alecia Baze to use during the tournament. Archer plans on using Buckmaster against Lowry and will follow with Cornmesser in the next game.

Buckmaster leads the team with a 12-3 record despite a 3.49 ERA, while Ford has a 2.29 ERA and 5-0 record in 11 appearances. Baze has gone 4-2 in nine appearances.

“We’re confident in our pitching staff,” Archer said.

At the plate and backing up the pitching staff, Archer has one of the best offensive teams in the league, led by lone senior Ali Tedford.

Tedford leads the team in plate appearances (120) and batting average (.557), while a handful of juniors are averaging close to the .475 mark. Megan McCormick leads the team in home runs with five, while Paige Thorn has four. Kayln Huckaby, Izzy Thomas and Ford have been productive at the plate as well.

The underclassmen have filled in nicely with sophomore Hannah Frank batting .453 and freshman Caitlyn Welch hitting .429. No one on the team is hitting less than .357 in a minimum of 17 plate appearances.