BEHIND THE PLATE: Lahontan Valley rivalry one to be marveled
Rivalries give teams that extra push to achieve success.
Fallon searched long and hard for a rivalry when it competed in the Division I (formally 4A) before making the switch to a smaller class three years ago.
The Greenwave didn’t have the close proximity of the more well-known rivalries in Northern Nevada. And neither did Elko, until it was also realigned into the Division I-A and now has Lowry and Spring Creek.
Carson and Douglas are arguably one of the toughest rivalries in the region while Spanish Springs and Reed battle in Sparks. Less than 30 minutes separate those schools in their rivalry, while the closest Division I school to Fallon was Carson. But Fallon didn’t have much of a rivalry in any sport, except with Spanish Springs in baseball because most of the players grew up together on all-star teams and faced Spanish Springs every summer.
Three years into the new Division I-A, however, Fallon has found the rival that was well worth the wait.
Less than 30 miles separate Fallon and Fernley and since moving into the same league, these two schools battle all year for bragging rights for a Lahontan League title.
Volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, baseball and golf: regardless of the sport, the Greenwave and Vaqueros have turned into one of the area’s best rivalries. The spring season, though, magnifies the rivalry because of Fernley’s dominance in softball before Fallon arrived. Its baseball team has been inconsistent but the Vaqueros try to mimic their counterparts and challenge Fallon for league supremacy.
Welcome to Rivalry Week as both league titles for the baseball and softball divisions are up for grabs.
The Fallon baseball team got the upper-hand on Wednesday with a 12-2 win over Fernley and needs just one more league win to take home its third consecutive league crown. Fallon has been on fire this month, only losing one game in a Sacramento spring break tournament before rolling over the Division III portion of the league schedule and then sweeping Dayton in a three-game set.
While one win will give Fallon the league crown, it will need to also finish as one of the top four teams in the North in order to host a three-game play-in series in two weeks for a berth to the regional tournament. Fallon’s 10-run win over its rival puts it (6-4) in fourth place behind Elko (6-0), Lowry (8-1) and Fernley (4-3). With a doubleheader on Saturday in Fernley, a sweep should guarantee Fallon one of the top seeds and the right to host the play-in series at the Ed Arciniega Athletic Complex. The four series winners next month will advance to a double-elimination tournament in Winnemucca where the top two teams move on to state.
On the smaller field, it’s a little tricky after Fallon lost at home, 2-0, to Fernley.
The Vaqueros (7-0) are the only perfect team in the North but still face Dayton next week in a three-game series. Fallon (8-2), on the other hand, now has two losses against Division I-A competition and must sweep Fernley on Saturday to not only win the league crown but also contend for the No. 1 overall seed.
Wednesday’s setback, however, shouldn’t be cause for worry because Fallon was playing its best ball of the season since Danielle Rothery’s season-ending leg injury. The Lady Wave knocked off two Division I teams in last week’s Reed tournament.
The fight for the league crown intensifies this rivalry even more, which makes for great softball as these two teams could meet each other in the state tournament.
The best part of the baseball and softball seasons are upon us as the Greenwave cap off Division I-A play on Saturday with two games against their rivals in Lyon County. But this will not be the last time we see Fernley this season.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at lvnsports.com.