Silver Stage, Fernley win titles
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor
It’s always special when a small community’s high school wins a state title. And it’s obviously special when the school wins a state title for the first time in its history. Or when a school wins a state title for the first time in quite a while.
Silver Stage and Fernley are celebrating state titles today. In its fifth year of existence, Silver Stage’s baseball team won the school’s first ever state title, winning the NIAA 2A State crown on Saturday in Needles. Meanwhile, Fernley’s softball team won the school’s first state title in six years and the first state crown for the school in a girls team sport in 22 years when it took the NIAA 3A State crown in Las Vegas on Saturday.
For Silver Stage it was a triple crown of sorts. Silver Stage won the school’s first state title after winning the school’s first league and Northern 2A state crowns earlier this season.
Todd Buchan has overseen the development of the program since its infancy as he has been the Silver Stage baseball coach for five years. Buchan has taken a program from its first year in which it went 2-18 with all freshman and sophomores to the state title this season.
“It’s just a great moment for a school and community,” Buchan said. “Obviously a great moment for a baseball program. It was just a Cinderella season.”
Silver Stage opened with an 8-1 win over Lincoln County in a game that was 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning when Silver Stage broke the game open with six runs. Zach Clarke and Billy Moss each hit two-run singles during the rally as Silver Stage took an 8-0 lead.
Clarke pitched a complete-game five hitter for the win, striking out six. “He pitched a heckuva game,” Buchan said. “It was just a battle.”
Silver Stage then beat Needles 12-5. Darren Boone went the distance for the win, striking out six while Sean Gress, Troy Valeska and David Dyess were among the offensive leaders.
In the championship game, Silver Stage beat Needles 6-5 for the title. Moss pitched six innings for the win.
With the score tied 5-5, Silver Stage scored the winning run in the sixth. Fisher doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Moss and scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Gress.
Boone came on in the seventh, retiring the side in order. He struck out the first two batters and then got a groundout to set off the celebration.
“It was crazy,” said Buchan, who’s team finished 22-5. “These opportunities don’t come along very often. It was unbelievable. The kids were just ecstatic. Our boys battled the whole time.”
“It’s been really fun,” said Moss, a junior, about winning the state title. “I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s been really amazing.
“It’s hard to put into words the feeling I have. It’s wonderful. The whole team has been a family.”
Moss is already looking forward to defending the title. “I can’t wait for next year,” he said. “I want to go out and practice right now as I speak.”
Fernley hadn’t won a state title since 2001 when the baseball team won the state crown. The Vaqueros hadn’t won a state title in a girls team sport since the track squad won in 1985.
But the Vaqueros may not have to wait that long for its next title as Fernley loses only senior Heather Mathews from this year’s state title winning team. Mathews was the winning pitcher in Saturday’s 10-2 win over Lowry that gave the Vaqueros the crown.
“We have a chance to keep going with this and hopefully it will carry over with their other sports they play,” said Fernley coach Diane Chapin, who’s team finished 30-4.
Chapin said the title wasn’t “just nice for us, but for the whole school. They did a great job pretty much all year, but they came out and played well yesterday (Saturday) and the whole tournament.”
Despite the departure of Mathews, Fernley will still be well-stocked on the mound. The Vaqueros return their other top two pitchers in Sara Mello and Kayla McCollum. There’s also second baseman Jamie King, the team’s No. 2 pitcher last year, and Frances Estrada, who was the No. 2 pitcher two years ago.
Fernley received a lift this year from Estrada’s return, who missed last year with an injury. Among the other top players coming back is catcher Sev Johnson.