Carson High softball set to open season |

Carson High softball set to open season

Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

There are plenty of contenders for the right to play Spanish Springs in the Northern 4A championship round in softball and Carson High figures to be one of them.

Spanish Springs, the defending NIAA 4A State champion, is the overwhelming favorite to defend its title. But if the Cougars end up in the Northern 4A finals as expected, all the rest of the contenders who will be playing for the right to face Spanish Springs will have something to play for. That’s because the state championships are being held in the North this year, so two Northern 4A teams will advance to state.

“Spanish Springs is obviously the team to beat,” Carson coach Scott Vickrey said. “It seems like they never lose anybody.”

But Vickrey said he believes his team has a chance at grabbing that second spot. “Make zone and shake things a little bit and see if we can get one of those two spots,” said Vickrey about the team’s goals this year.

The Senators, though, will have plenty of company going for that second spot. Among the contenders will be Reno High, who will be as strong as ever, and Douglas, who has a strong nucleus back from a team that ended up as the zone runner-up to Spanish Springs.

And along with Reno and Douglas, Vickrey said all of the teams in the Sierra League continue to improve. “There’s nobody we can really overlook,” he said.

Carson is going with a 12-player roster this year so all of the players will be expected to contribute. And while there are only two seniors, eight of the 12 players have at leaest two years of varsity experience.

The Senators return all three of their pitchers from last year in juniors Cassie Vondrak and Nikki Keller and sophomore Daria Leid. All three will also be among the offensive leaders and Vondrak will give Carson a power bat in the lineup. Vondrak homered in a scrimmage on Saturday involving Dayton, Fernley and Fallon.

While Vondrak and Keller saw most of the action last year, Vickrey said he expects Leid to see more time on the mound this season.

“Daria Leid’s looking real good,” Vickrey said. “Daria has picked up speed and movement on her pitches.”

Vickrey said Keller reached 60 miles per hour during Saturday’s scrimmage. “She’s picked up a lot of movement on her pitches as well,” Vickrey said. “There’s not one workhorse we have. All three are capable of doing it.”

Among the top returners is senior shortstop Christa Casci. “I’m looking for her to have a big year,” Vickrey said.

Carson will have two huge places in the lineup to fill in catcher Dacey Hassey and centerfielder Lindsay Burroughs. Abby Rankl, who started the majority of time and third and was being groomed to take over at catcher at the end of last year.

Freshman K.C. Withrow could also see time at catcher. Vickrey also said Withrow had an outstanding day at third during Saturday’s scrimmage.

Krista Mattice returns at first base and Vickrey said she’s an improved offensive player. Keller and Vondrak could see time at first base as well. When she’s not pitching, Keller should see most of her time at second while Vondrak could definitely be used a designated hitter when she’s not pitching.

In addition, sophomore Hannah Shaw should see time at second. Mattice will back up Casci at short while Leid should see most of her time at third when she’s not pitching.

Carson will have plenty of speed in the outfield with the likes of Katie McEwan, who is the likely candidate to take over for Burroughs in center, and Belen Munoz. Other outfielders will be Loretta Cagle and freshman Elizabeth Cagle and Withrow can play outfield as well.

“We’ve got a couple of young freshmen that are showing a lot of promise,” said Vickrey about Withrow and Cagle.

Carson will open the season at 6:45 p.m. today against Fallon at the Preseason Tournament of Champions at the Laguna Community Park Complex near Sacramento. Also in Carson’s pool are traditional Northern California powers Will C. Wood and Christian Brothers.

Douglas is in Carson’s bracket as well and the two schools could eventually meet. Spanish Springs and Reno are in the tournament, but are in a different bracket.