Fernley takes series over Lady Wave
Northern Division I-A softball
Team League Overall
xFernley 17-1 19-4
xFallon 15-3 16-7
xLowry 15-3 18-4
Elko 11-10 15-13
Sparks 9-10 9-10
Spring Creek 8-10 10-14
South Tahoe 4-13 4-13
Truckee 2-14 2-16-1
Dayton 0-17 0-17
x - clinch playoff berth
In a battle of rivals and state champion hopefuls, the Fernley softball team took one step forward to a Northern Division I-A title.
The Vaqueros (17-1 league, 18-4 overall) pulled away from Fallon (15-3, 16-7) in the final four innings for an 8-3 victory to win the season series at the Edward Arciniega Complex.
“The pulling away part happened when the pitching broke down,” Fallon coach Bill Archer said.
Both clubs struggled early in the game to gain their footing as several errors led to an early scoring burst.
Soon after, though, Fernley calmed its nerves behind Mercedes Rothwell, Serena Olson, Kailey Daggitt and Brooke Chapin.
Rothwell blasted a home run, as Olson, who also doubled, and Daggitt each had a pair of RBIs, while Chapin closed the game in the circle with three scoreless innings.
The Vaqueros jumped out to a 1-0 lead after Olson doubled to left and scored on a weak pop-up that landed between pitcher Kayla Buckmaster, first baseman Hannah Frank and second baseman Caitlyn Welch.
Fallon, though, countered off an error by Hailey Edgar, who dropped a pop-up off the bat of lead-off hitter Ali Tedford. Paige Thorn smoked a single to right centerfield to score Tedford, but was gunned down at second base.
In the second inning, Buckmaster drove in Kalyn Huckaby on a single and Frank scored after Rothwell’s throwing error on a double-play attempt.
“We moved some runners over into scoring position,” Archer said. “You’re always going to have a tight game with Fernley. We just weren’t able to finish innings.”
From there, Fernley scored seven unanswered runs chasing Buckmaster from the game after the sixth inning.
In the top of the fourth, Chapin and Shandell Gemmel reached base and an infield single by Daggitt up the middle scored both as Welch stopped the ball, but an error led to Gemmel scoring.
“It was a big game, so I think everybody was a bit tight at the start,” Fernley coach Diane Chapin said. “We went with a game plan that worked … and did what we needed to do to pull away.”
Rothwell then added her homer and Fernley scratched across three runs in the seventh off reliever Miranda Ford to pull away.
“If anything, Buck got a little tired and the reliver (Miranda Ford) wasn’t ready,” Archer said. “The first five innings was a pretty decent ballgame.”
As for Fernley, Diane Chapin said her club must continue its focus, especially this weekend at Lowry.
Fernley, who beat Sparks, 11-1, on Wednesday, holds a two-game lead over Fallon and Lowry (15-3, 18-4) for first place. The Vaqueros, though, visit Lowry today and Saturday in a crucial three-game series.
“We just have to make sure we focus on playing well,” Chapin added. “Do things right and play hard.”
The Lady Wave, however, host Sparks (9-10, 9-10), a pesky squad chasing Elko (11-10, 15-13) for the fourth playoff spot.
Fallon still has a chance to earn the No. 1 seed if Lowry sweeps Fernley, and the Lady Wave sweeps Sparks and South Tahoe next week.
Regardless, Fallon, Fernley and Lowry have all clinched a berth in the regional tournament, which is May 8-9 at Dayton. Elko, Sparks and Spring Creek are still in contention for the No. 4 berth.
For Fallon, though, Archer said his club must find a way to hit better to support the effort of the pitchers. Situational hitting is key to move forward, but the silver lining is Archer has an experienced club, who at one point last year last four straight, but went on to win the state title.
“We are going to clean up the errors,” Archer stressed. “We have to adjust to the different type of pitching and hitting. We have to have another pitcher come in an relive our starter and do whatever we can to make that adjustment.”