Douglas rallies for sweep of Reno
MINDEN — Last inning. Trailing on the scoreboard. Bottom of the batting order coming up. None of that was a problem as far as Douglas High School softball coach Rick Smith was concerned Friday afternoon.
The Tigers faced that situation three times and they responded each time to sweep their important Sierra League doubleheader at home against Reno. Jessie Kizer’s two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Douglas a 2-1 victory in the opener and then in game two, the Tigers came from behind twice before they finally pulled out a 5-4 victory in the bottom of the 11th inning on a sunny yet breezy afternoon.
With the sweep, Douglas improved its league record to 11-4 and take the inside track to second-place away from Reno (6-7). The Tigers lost their season opener at Reno 3-2 on March 11.
Significantly, Douglas won with two starters on the bench with injuries: right fielder Brittany Puzey (quadricep pull) and center fielder Kaycee Wilcks (shoulder separation). Both could be sidelined up to two weeks, according to Smith.
“That’s what’s nice about this team; if somebody goes down, somebody else is always ready to step in and get the job done,” he said.
Kizer, a sophomore promoted from the J.V. squad two weeks ago, started at shortstop while Cheryl Nicoll moved to center field. “Jessie did an excellent job filling in at shortstop,” Smith said.
Senior Tasha McCann came off the bench in game two and contributed with her bat from the No. 9 spot in the order. She reached base in the seventh, ninth and 11th innings to help keep rallies alive, highlighted by a two-out triple that drove pinch runner Missy Kaplan home with the tying run in the ninth.
Interestingly enough, each of those three rallies were started from the No. 6 spot in the order.
So was the seventh inning rally in the opener when Douglas erased a 1-0 deficit to win. Stevie Smith bounced a single up the middle, advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third when McCann reached base on an error. Kizer received a second life when her pop foul was dropped and then she lined the next pitch into the left-center field gap to drive both runners home.
“The middle of our order didn’t do much today, but our six, seven, eight and nine hitters picked it up,” coach Smith said.
That gave the win to Katie Pagen, who allowed one run on two hits over seven innings, struck out eight and walked one. Pagen also picked up the win in game two as she threw two scoreless innings in relief of Kayla Dunn. Dunn allowed four runs on six hits and four walks and she struck out 10 over nine innings. The Tigers committed seven errors in the second game.
Stephanie Shuman pitched a complete game five-hitter for Reno in the opener. Jackie Rinehart was the hard luck loser in game two as the Stanford-bound senior pitched all 11 innings, allowed nine hits and no walks and struck out six. The Huskies were in position to slam the door shut twice, only to be denied by the Tigers each time.
Down 3-1 in the seventh, Smith and Kelly McKinnon reached on back-to-back errors. Both runners advanced on a running catch Reno first baseman Lorena Valencia made of a pop foul against the dugout screen, and both came home to tie the score when McCann’s ground ball was misplayed for an error.
After Reno took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth, Smith doubled off the left field fence to lead off the bottom half of the inning and then scored when McCann tripled down the right field line.
“Every time they did something, we were able to answer,” coach Smith said. “Obviously, that was huge. It was nice to see us come back like that.”
Pagen bounced a two-strike pitch up the middle to lead off the Tigers’ 11th. Then, after McKinnon squared to bunt, she slapped the pitch past Reno’s charging third baseman for a base hit that put runners at first and second. McCann reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, and then with one out, the winning run came home when Devon Bateman’s wind-blown pop fly was dropped on the infield.
Reno left 14 base runners stranded in the second game. Dunn allowed two runs in the fifth and escaped from a bases loaded jam thanks to a 1-2-3 double play. Pagen worked out of a bases loaded threat in the 10th with a strikeout and ground ball to Bateman at second.
Douglas returns to action today with two games in the Clovis Easter Tournament at Buchanan High School in Clovis, Calif. The Tigers play Porterville at 4 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. contest against Golden West (Visalia, Calif.). On Monday, they play highly touted Madera at 9 a.m. and Bakersfield at 1 p.m.