The Reed softball team won its fourth straight regional title on Saturday, topping Spanish Springs 6-0 in the title game at Bishop Manogue.
The Raiders will now attempt to win their second-straight state title, starting Thursday at Hixson Park against Rancho at 4:30 p.m.
Those are the headlines.
What is easy to overlook among all the success the program is having, is just how it’s doing so. It’s not complicated: Strong defense, timely hitting and Julia Jensen.
Jensen is 22-2 this year with a 1.51 ERA over 162.2 innings. She has also struck out a staggering 288 batters as opposed to just 25 walks.
And somehow, she made those numbers look marginal with her nearly unbelievable performance in the DI North regional tournament – Again. She allowed four hits the entire weekend in 29 scoreless innings while striking out 48 batters and walking just four
She sandwiched a two hitter in Thursday’s opener against Bishop Manogue and a two hitter in Saturday’s title game against Spanish Springs around two no hitters on Friday. She threw two no hitters in one day, in two playoff games, and yet that has somehow become a subplot.
The heroic performance came after a similar showing in the last year’s regional tournament when she allowed just one earned run on 12 hits in 26 innings with 41 strikeouts and two walks.
Her two-year regional tournament stat line comes out to one earned run on 16 hits over 55 innings (0.12 ERA). She’s struck out 89 batters and walked just six.
No player deserves more credit for Reed’s recent postseason success than Jensen. Going back to last year, the Raiders are 11-0 in the postseason. If they can stretch it to 14-0, or 15-1, they’ll be state champs again.
And as long as Jensen, who’s verbally committed to Nevada, is throwing the ball, the Raiders have as good a shot as anyone.
DI North all-league teams overpopulated
The DI North baseball all-league teams were released on Sunday morning.
DI North baseball all-league teams are out pic.twitter.com/sJxV4xacf2
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) May 15, 2016
Reed senior Austin Beard was named the Player of the Year. Galena senior centerfielder Sami Baig was the Offensive Player of the Year. Spanish Springs senior pitcher Ryan Anderson was the Pitcher of the Year. Bishop Manogue senior Anthony Galatti was the Defensive Player of the Year. And Galena’s Dave Kulikowski was the Coach of the Year.
Galena, Wooster and Carson all put 11 players on all-league teams. Spanish Springs had nine. Reno, Bishop Manogue and Damonte Ranch all had eight. North Valleys and Douglas had four. And Hug had one.
If you’re thinking ‘wow, that sounds like a lot of players,’ that’s because it is. A grand total of 87 players landed on all-league teams in 2016. With just 12 teams in the DI North, each squad had an average of 7.25 players receive postseason accolades.
What are we doing?
At one point, it would’ve been easier for the coaches to choose who shouldn’t be named to an all-league team.
Getting voted to an all-league team at the end of the season is supposed to be an honor. But due to politics and the fear that has become crippling of hurting feelings, we now have a situation where just 1.75 starters per team didn’t get voted to an all-league team.
NCAA tournament not out of question for Pack baseball
The Wolf Pack went to Albuquerque over the weekend and took a huge series from New Mexico, taking two of the three games.
Nevada (31-21, 18-9) is now tied with New Mexico (33-20, 18-9) for second in the Mountain West, 1.5 games back of Fresno State (35-18, 21-9). The Bulldogs are done with conference play.
Current MW standings. Nevada needs a sweep against UNLV to become co-champions along with Fresno State. pic.twitter.com/Hs917hdi13
— Wolf Pack Baseball (@NevadaBaseball) May 16, 2016
The Wolf Pack can earn at least a share of its second straight MW regular season title if it can sweep UNLV (23-28, 13-14) at home this weekend. The games will all be moved up one day to Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
New Mexico, by the way, ends conference play at Air Force (27-23, 11-16) this weekend.
Even if Nevada doesn’t win the regular season title, a second-place finish could prove just as valuable. A top-two finish would secure a first-round bye in the conference tournament May 25-29 in Albuquerque.
The Wolf Pack hoped for an at-large bid after going 41-15 in 2015 with an outright regular season title. It didn’t get one. It certainly won’t get one this year regardless of this weekend’s outcome. A run through the MW tournament is the team’s only shot at the NCAA tournament.
But winners in 14 of its last 15, Nevada will have a real chance regardless of seed.
Nathan can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org