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Carson softball defeats Dayton

Carson and Dayton High Schools are two teams battling for their playoff lives in softball, so Tuesday’s game between the two clubs served an important purpose.

Both teams are heading into stretches in which they face key games that will determine their playoff fate – the Senators in the Northern 4A and the Dust Devils in the Northern 3A. So, Carson used Tuesday’s 11-3 win at CHS as a tuneup for its playoff run while the Dust Devils are hoping the tougher Northern 4A competition will give them an edge in the Northern 3A.

Dayton continues its Northern 4A run when it plays one of the North’s top teams in Reno High today. The Dust Devils will then have a key doubleheader this weekend against Lowry in two games that will go a long way to determining if Dayton advances to the Northern 3A playoffs.

“It’s nice to get the competition,” said Dayton coach Dusti Houk about facing 4A teams.

The Senators received a chance to use all three of their pitchers in ace Mandy Carvin and freshmen Christa Casci and Thera Frank. Carvin pitched two scoreless innings while Casci and Frank were also effective.

Carson coach Scott Vickrey was particularly impressed with Casci. “Christa came in and did a really good job, too,” he said. “She’s starting to step up. I was real happy with her performance.”

Tamara Ramirez started for Dayton, but only lasted two-thirds of an inning as Carson jumped out to a 5-0 lead. But Ramirez wasn’t helped by her defense. “The defense didn’t support her, that’s the bottom line,” Houk said.

Dayton ace Nicole Greer came in and finished up, giving Dayton a solid effort, allowing just two earned runs over 5.1 innings. Those two earned runs came on Jessica Ashbaugh’s two-run home run that cleared the right centerfield fence.

“I know she was throwing the ball with a lot of heat,” said Vickrey about Greer. But Greer’s defense also let her down at times.

“The defense needs to start supporting the pitchers in the circle,” Houk said. “You take away the errors we had and you never know, we’ve got a new ball game.”

Among the big hits during Carson’s five-run rally was Abby Rankl’s double. The Senators added five more runs in the second to take a 10-0 lead. Dacey Hassey singled and Ashbaugh followed with her two-run shot. Carson then scored three unearned runs, with Casci’s RBI single making it 10-0.

In the third, Bailey Garcia walked and Sierra Barnwell doubled for Dayton to make it 10-1. Carson scored another unearned run to make it 11-1 in the fourth. Brittany Hill also robbed Casci of a hit in the inning when she made a diving catch in right field.

Dayton prevented the game from being ended by the 10-run rule in the fifth when it scored two runs off of Frank. Gina Henderson and Katy Cross each walked and Toni May reached on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.

Barnwell, who finished with two RBI, hit an RBI sacrifice fly that was dropped, keeping the bases loaded with no outs. Cross scored on a wild pitch to make it 11-3 and Dayton still had runners at second and third with no outs.

But shortstop Robyn Conn threw out a runner trying to score and Frank went on to induce two pop flies to end the threat. Frank settled down after that, pitching two scoreless innings to end the game.

Ashbaugh and Hassey each had two hits and Kaitlin Burroughs and Frank each added a hit. Melony Cox also had a hit for Dayton. “When you put three runs up against a Carson team, that’s not bad,” Houk said.

Carson will play South Tahoe at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at CHS. Liz Rankl could see an inning or two of action against South Tahoe and the plan is for her to return on a full-time basis against Wooster in a key doubleheader against Wooster on Saturday.

Rankl, Carson’s starting shortstop, has been out with a pulled muscle. Conn has moved to center field to replace Rankl and Burroughs has replaced Conn in center field and Vickrey said both have filled in well.

“The girls played pretty good ball,” Vickrey said about Tuesday. “There were a couple of mistakes, but overall i was real happy with the way they played.”