Wave poised to bring back hardware
The last time the Greenwave sports program won a Division I-A state title came two years ago in Reno.
With state returning North this season, Fallon’s baseball, softball and boys track and field teams are in position to help erase this minor drought after strong performances at last weekend’s regional.
But it’s not going to be easy, especially on the baseball diamond and on the track.
The Greenwave baseball team won the regional tournament behind its pitching staff to return to the state tournament after a one-year hiatus. Its counterpart on the softball diamond avenged losses to Lowry and Fernley and defeated them when it counted the most — in the playoffs — to win the regional crown. The boys track and field team narrowed the gap between Dayton and Elko and both the boys and girls produced several regional champions.
But like the playoffs being dubbed as a new season, the same can be said about state.
It’s not necessary to wipe the slate completely clean this week, but Fallon must build off momentum from regionals and second half of the season to bring back any hardware to the Lahontan Valley. The task might seem monumental, especially for the baseball and track and field teams, but Fallon has performed notably better when state is happening an hour away.
The Lady Wave softball team arguably stands the best chance at winning the state crown after it rode Rileigh Ricken’s arm to three-straight playoff wins, including two over cross-valley rival Fernley.
Don’t forget that Fallon won last year’s regional against Fernley, but two differences stand out this year, maturity and momentum. The Lady Wave have more experience, especially in close games thanks to the new league schedule removing games against Pershing County, Silver Stage and Yerington.
Although Fallon won the title last year in Winnemucca, it needed two games to hold off Fernley, which snapped the team’s winning streak. This year’s club was riding a nine-game winning streak heading into Thursday’s first-round contest against Boulder City at Bishop Manogue High School. The tournament resumes today with the title game tomorrow at the University of Nevada’s Hixson Park.
Since realignment in the South two years ago, the boys field became increasingly competitive and challenging.
Fallon didn’t qualify for state in baseball last year with Elko winning the regional over Truckee and carrying a near-perfect record into the final tournament. The Indians, though, were extremely overwhelmed by the Las Vegas schools and didn’t make it the state title game.
This year doesn’t look any better with Faith Lutheran, the defending state champ, coming back to the tournament after it threw a perfect game last week to win its regional title. Nevertheless, Fallon has experience and knows how to compete in this type of setting as it showed last week in South Lake Tahoe.
The Greenwave must rely on pitching once again, and the bats cannot go into hibernation this week against two power-hitting southern schools. Getting through Thursday’s first game against Chaparral at Sparks High School was the first step to trying to win its first state title since 2011. Fallon, though, will most likely need to knock off Faith Lutheran at least twice to win the trophy.
It’s a tall task but Fallon has already proven it can overcome the challenge of being the underdog. If Fallon can get through today at Sparks, then it will be competing at the University of Nevada to take back the state title from the South.
The track and field teams also face stiff competition from the southern schools as their top times and marks were noticeably better than the northern schools in the regional last week; however, it’s much different running in the North with the elevation and temperature differences and the southern schools normally don’t match their marks when they travel north.
The Greenwave has the potential to medal many individuals and relay teams, even though a team title might seem out of reach. The boys team qualified eight individuals and all four relay teams while the girls have three individuals and one relay team competing today and Saturday at Carson High School.
Anything can happen in track, especially, from a simple scratch in the jumping or throwing events to a botched handoff in the relays to a false start in one of the races. Don’t count Fallon out from competing for the top team honor as well as placing several on top of the podium by the end of Saturday.
Greenwave pride will be at its strongest again this weekend in Reno and Carson as Fallon aims to end the school year on a strong note by bringing a state plaque or two to showcase in the trophy case.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.