Carson, Douglas renew rivalry
Appeal Sports Editor
Even if there wasn’t anything at stake, there would be plenty of motivation for the Carson-Douglas rivalry if the two high schools were playing each other in hopscotch in the middle of the street.
But because of the timing of the series this year, the rivalry has major playoff implications in baseball and softball that hasn’t been seen in the rivalry in recent years. Playoff positioning will be on the line when the three-game series begin today at Carson.
The baseball game will be played at 3:30 p.m. at Ron McNutt Field and at the same time adjacent to McNutt Field, the softball game will also be held. The two schools will resume the series on Saturday with doubleheaders in baseball and softball both beginning at 10 a.m. at Douglas.
Douglas leads the Sierra League at 11-1 in baseball while Carson is in third at 8-4. They are in a battle with Damonte Ranch (9-3), Reno High (6-6) and North Valleys (6-6) as five teams are competing for four Northern 4A playoff berths.
In softball, Carson (9-3) is in a battle with Damonte Ranch and Douglas (7-3) for second in the Sierra League.
Douglas coach John Glover was quick to note that while his team is in first it still has to finish with three of the other top teams in Carson, Damonte and North Valleys.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us,” Glover said. “We definitely have the hardest road ahead of us and we know it. We’re happy but we also know that we have a very difficult part of our schedule in front of us.”
The Senators are in good – but not great shape – to make the playoffs. Carson holds the tiebreaker advantage over North Valleys after taking two of three from the Panthers last week. But Carson missed a golden opportunity to sweep North Valleys and really strengthening its playoff position when lost the final game of the series 13-12 in 11 innings in a game it could very well have won.
“We’re still fighting for a playoff spot a little bit more than Johnny’s team right now,” Carson coach Steve Cook said. “A spot in the playoffs is probably going to be on the line. Our kids will be ready to go.
“It’s going to be a drag out fist fight. Our kids know that and I’m pretty sure Johnny’s kids know that.
“It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere. It’s fun to play those guys. Johnny does a good job getting his kids ready to go.”
Cook said his team still accomplished what it need to against North Valleys. “The big picture of the whole thing we took two out of three and that’s what we wanted to do,” Cook said. “We did what we needed to do.”
Cook said Matt Rutledge, Nick Smallman and Tony Fagan will be the starting pitchers in the series. He also said he’ll go as deep into his pitching as needed and that Kyle Mandoki, Tyler Smith, Stephen Sawyers, Paul Cagle, David Eller, Rob Valerius and Kyle Stone could all see action.
Smith deserved a better fate in the loss to North Valleys as he was the losing pitcher after allowing one run over five innings.
“They’re pitching’s deep, they’ve got a great bunch of hitters, they’re well-coached,” Glover said. “You put those three things together you know you’re going to have a battle.”
Glover said he has no idea what his starting rotation is going to be although it’s a good bet that Tyler May and Nate Whalin are strong candidates. Catcher Jordan Hadlock has also been used primarily as the team’s closer.
Douglas also has a strong lineup up and down its order with first baseman Phil Mannelly, second baseman Willie Morgan, shortstop Tim Rudnick, third baseman Ryan Pruitt and outfielders Cory Eilers, Niko Salidas, May and Whalin.
In softball, Carson beat Douglas 17-6 early in the season at the Lassen Tournament, but CHS coach Scott Vickrey said the Tigers shouldn’t be judged by that result. “I would imagine they’re going to be a better team now,” Vickrey said.
Douglas has a solid pitcher in Stephanie Harper and among the leaders offensively is Lauren Hoppe.
“They’re pitching is good and they bring the sticks and they’re well-coached,” Vickrey said. “We know we’re going to have to play good ball.”
Vickrey said he isn’t sure if he’s going to start Cassi Vondrak or Nikki Keller on the mound. Daria Leid can pitch as well for the Senators.
Cook summed up the rivalry best. “If you’re not up for these three games you probably don’t have a pulse.”