Lady Wave seals series win in Fernley
The Lady Vaqueros’ last chance to tip the series against Fallon failed on Tuesday as the Lady Wave left Fernley after a 9-4 victory to win the three-game series.
Fernley now stands 14-6-1 overall and 14-2 in DI-A vs. Fallon at 16-2 overall and in DI-A before its series in Dayton begins today at 3 p.m. followed by a doubleheader Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
In light of the loss, Fernley coach Diane Chapin said she is still certain her team will be facing Fallon come playoff time.
“I’m pretty sure it should be the two of us fighting at the end again,” Chapin said, confident the rivalry would be the tone of this year’s state championship.
Fallon’s Faith Cornmesser started on the mound and pitched a seven-inning two-hitter against Fernley. The Vaqueros started Courtney Dunn on the mound in place of Taelyne Phillips. Dunn pitched a four-hitter before being replaced after the fourth inning, a normally impressive feat if the Lady Wave hadn’t made those hits count.
Cornmesser and Dunn both pitched a scoreless first inning until the Lady Wave came up to bat in the bottom of the second. Fallon’s Paige Thorn knocked a two-run homer over the fence of left field, scoring Fallon catcher Megan McCormick for an early 2-0 lead and the beginning of a long day for Fernley.
Dunn kept calm and shut out Fallon in the third inning, letting only Izzy Thomas on base by error. Dunn struck out the middle of the Wave’s order, including regular home-run hitter Kalyn Huckaby, with low inside pitches to keep a tight strike zone.
Cornmesser showed the first signs of struggle on the mound in the top of the fourth, letting two Fernley runners on with low inside pitches. McCormick threw out the lead runner Fernley’s Sarah Miller, tagged by Huckaby. Cornmesser made the last out at first, but not before Fernley’s Brooke Chapin walked home with the bases loaded for the Vaqueros’ first run.
Fallon coach Tammie Shemenski said she wasn’t worried about Cornmesser at any point in the game.
“I knew she was going to come out of that because that’s just the kind of pitcher she is,” Shemenski said. “We’re moving the ball around so we might have walked a couple more batters than intended, but she came back out of that inning.”
Fallon began to read Dunn in the bottom of the fourth, waiting for the rare outside pitches to stroke singles. Buckmaster reached base with a single before McCormick soon after batted in Buckmaster with a double to deep right field, pushing the Wave 3-0.
Cornmesser had the hit of the inning when she blasted a two-run long ball over left center, bringing in McCormick for a 5-1 lead.
Thorn was caught out for the first out by Justina Hawley in left field, few expecting Hawley to catch the foul drive near the left field corner in time. Ford, caught out at first after a bunt, followed by Courtney Cross, strikeout, ended the inning.
Fallon and Fernley each plated two runners in the fifth inning, the Wave up 7-3. Fernley’s Megan Fallin and Miller were plated with an RBI by sophomore Hailee Edgar. The double to deep right field would’ve been an easy out for the Wave if not for a collision between right field Caitlyn Welch and center field Thorn knocking the ball out of Welch’s mitt. Cornmesser struck out Brooke Chapin to end the inning. Fernley left one runner on.
Coach Chapin put in junior Megan Fallin on the mound in the bottom of the fifth to relieve Dunn. Fallin had only two hits against her in the fifth, but no strikeouts, but reliant on Fernley’s infield to cut down the Lady Wave’s RBIs by keeping runners off the bases.
“They were seeing (Dunn) well so I figured I would throw someone in they’ve never seen,” coach Chapin said on why she put Fallin in to pitch. “The last time Fallin threw she only gave up one hit, and I don;t think she gave up a hit other than that bunt we saw today.”
The bunt belonged to Fallon’s Miranda Ford in the top of the sixth, a sacrifice to move Cornmesser into scoring position at third base. After Thorn walked to first and stole second, Cross plated Cornmesser with an RBI past shortstop which then put Thorn in scoring position with coach Chapin calling the play at home.
Thorn took off after a dirt bill the next pitch anyhow, safe for the Wave’s last run of the at bat.
“They had a few more hits than us,” coach Chapin said. “We gave up those two long balls which were costly, so they started out hitting early and we didn’t. So we kind of had to play come-from-behind the whole time.”
Fernley’s infield stepped up in the top of the seventh. Edgar tagged out Thomas mid-slide at second, then-after Fernley shortstop Mercedes Rothwell threw out both Buckmaster and McCormick at first for the next two outs.
Despite a solid performance in the field the Vaqueros last chance for a miracle comeback ended with one last run by Rothwell – the result of a sacrifice bunt. Rothwell got on base with an impressive double off a line drive which put her in scoring position soon after, one of Fernley’s few hits which didn’t land right in the glove of a Wave infielder.
“The end results always prove it,” Shemenski said when asked how Fernley’s infield stacked up to the Wave. “But Fernley’s always competitive with us and both teams respect each other. We’re always going for them and they’re always going for us and I think that battle is going to continue. We’ve always been competitive and I think we’ll continue to be competitive with this team and both teams are very respecting.”
Though the arguable key difference in the game was who performed behind the plate and who didn’t, Chapin said she thought her girls did a great job at bat given the end numbers.
“We got a lot of walks and we were very patient at the plate, but sometimes you need a little luck at bat and we didn’t get the lucky bounce, so it just didn’t happen the way we wanted it to,” Chapin said.
Shemenski, however, said she is also feeling confident in her team’s batting average heading into thi afternoon’s series at Dayton.
“I feel pretty strong about it now,” Shemenski said. “Our bats are coming around where we want them to be. Our infield and outfield are strong and we’re coming up with those tough plays. So we’re ready to go. I expect to win the series for sure.”