Carson softball rolls against South Tahoe
Appeal Sports Writer
Nuestra casa es su casa – Our house is your house. In essence that’s what the Carson softball team had to say to the South Tahoe Vikings.
Due to lingering snow at Lake Tahoe, the Lady Vikings – who were due to host the Lady Senators – were the home team for their game Tuesday at Carson High School.
But any way you slice it, whether they were guests or hosts the Senators were rude, banging out 13 hits along the way to an 11-4 win over the merry Vikings, who sang in the dugout to each of its batters and linked arms and danced away in the outfield and pitcher’s circle.
“It’s awesome,” said first-year South Tahoe softball coach Joann Allister of her team’s joyful enthusiasm, whatever the score or situation was. “We’re trying to be upbeat, positive and supportive of our teammates. That’s why we’re doing it.
“The attitude in the past is that South Tahoe loses every game. We’re trying to change that – break that chain. We’re in the process of learning how to be a real softball team.”
While the Vikings trumped last year’s winless season (0-21) with a victory over Hug in a non-league tournament game earlier this season, they couldn’t overcome the Senators for victory No. 2.
Carson got off to an explosive start, taking a 7-1 lead after two and appeared on its way to a an early 10-run mercy rule win, taking a 10-1 lead in the top of the fourth on an a two-run double by second baseman Candice Rutledge and an RBI-single by relief pitcher Cassie Vondrak.
But the festive Vikings refused to be evicted early from their temporary home field and pitcher Mollie Novasel, who reached base on a Carson error, also reached home on a throwing error and cut the lead to 10-2 in the bottom of the fourth.
An Abby Rankl single brought home starting pitcher Christa Casci for the 11-2 lead in the fifth, but the jubilant Vikings avoided the early knockout when catcher Shayliene McLaughlin ripped an RBI-double off of Nikki Keller, Carson’s third pitcher of the day, in the bottom of the inning.
South Tahoe’s Janell Contaxis drew the Vikings to within 11-4 in the sixth on an RBI-double, but that’s as close as they would get.
Carson improved to 13-7 overall and 10-3 in the Sierra League – good enough for second place behind Reno – with the win. South Tahoe, living for the moment and full of enough cheer to make the Grinch dance a jig, remained winless in league play and “1-and-something” overall, according to Allister.
Senators coach Scott Vickrey used all three of his pitchers, beginning with Casci (2 innings, three hits, one run, one strikeout), followed by Vondrak (2 innings, no runs, one hit and three strikeouts) and Keller (3 innings, three runs, five hits and two strikeouts). The Carson pitching trio walked no batters.
“I wanted to use Kellar for one inning, but she got a little more,” Vickrey said. “They hit the ball very well. (South Tahoe had nine hits.) We hit the ball really well. We started with a short (small ball) game. Candice had a nice line drive (in the fourth). We’re getting ready for a tough tournament this weekend (at Reed vs. McQueen, Wooster and Tokay, Calif.). It was nice to see them knocking out the bats a little.”
Carson junior catcher Dacey Hassey continued her torrid hitting, going 2-for-4, singling in Casci for the 1-0 lead. Hassey, who is batting over .500 after hitting .386 last year, also had a double in the second to again score Casci for the 6-1 lead and followed with another single in the fourth.
“She’s a solid player,” Vickrey said of Hassey, who also threw out Sierra Jett at second in the bottom of the sixth. “She has a quick release. She’s on fire (at the plate). She’s leading the team in average, hits and slugging percentage.”
Hassey said she’s “pretty excited” about her average, but tries “not to think about hitting over .500.” She credits the team as a whole for the Senators’ success so far this year.
“We get along surprisingly well for a bunch of high school girls,” said Hassey, who has a “pop-to-pop” (throw from catcher to second base) of less than 2 seconds. “We have great chemistry. We don’t have a lot of issues.”
Casci also had a good performance with the bat, going 3-for-4 and knocking in right fielder Loretta Cagle with a double to make it 3-1 in the top of the second. And junior Kaitlin Burroughs had it going in all phases of the game, going 2-for-4 from the plate and showing great wheels, legging out a triple in the fifth.
Burroughs, who plays center field, also had a Jim Edmonds type of effort in the third, diving chest-first to the ground in robbing Bartlett of a hit.
“I have the utmost confidence in her in center field,” Vickrey said. “Out there in the alleys, she has the speed to get to it. She covers ground well. She’s doing a real good job getting on base. She’s an all-round player. She has speed and she’s dangerous all the way around.”
Rutledge, who finished 1-for-4, also added an RBI in the first, knocking in Burroughs on a groundout in the first for the 2-0 lead.
Rankl went 2-for-5, with 3 RBI, knocking in two in the second with a blooper over second for the 5-1 lead.
Carson will next play South Tahoe (which will once again be the home team) at Carson High School Thursday at 3:30 p.m..
“I’m extremely happy,” Vickrey said of the performance of his young team, which has no seniors. “We’re getting stronger as the season goes on. They’re a great team. Their chemistry is good and they work hard.”