RENO – It was over.
Spanish Springs (26-14) took a 4-1 lead to the bottom of the seventh inning in Thursday’s DI state semifinal against Shadow Ridge (30-6) at Hixson Park. But it was over.
The Mustangs scored twice on four straight singles and an error to get within a run and had the bases loaded with one out. The tying run was a third. The winning run was at second.
“I thought we did (have it won). I thought we did,” Shadow Ridge coach Julia Meyn said. “I was pretty positive we had it at the end.”
Then it really was over. And somehow, it was in favor of the Cougs, 4-3.
Hayley Fein got Alyssa Tolentino to bounce out to Ryan Hauder at first. Hauder lobbed one to senior catcher Kourtney Townsend, who stepped on the dish then fired to her sophomore sister, Katelyn, covering first from second for a game-ending 3-2-4 double play.
“We had done that a couple times this year with the bases loaded,” Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said. “I had told Ryan nice easy toss to home and so then I’m saying ‘hold it,’ but (Townsend) threw to first and we got the double play.”
With the gut check win, Spanish Springs advanced to the state semifinals where it will play Reed (32-3-1) on Friday at 2:45 p.m., again at Hixson Park. Shadow Ridge fell into the loser’s bracket. It will attempt to fight off elimination on Friday at 12:30 p.m. against Rancho (28-8).
Fein threw a complete game for the Cougars, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits and three walks. She struck out six.
Mia Voges also threw a complete game in the losing cause. She was charged with four runs (two earned) on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
The second unearned run she was charged with proved to be the dagger.
With a 3-1 lead going to the top of the seventh, Kayleen Garrick and Katelyn Townsend led off with consecutive singles. Courtney Huff then hit a hard ground ball to short but the throw to first was low and skirted to the fence, allowing Garrick to jog the final 60 feet.
“That was the game,” Davidson said. “That was huge.”
The Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth with a pair of runs. Garrick scored from third on a wild pitch and Kourtney Townsend plated her sister with an RBI groundout to third.
The Mustangs put a runner on third with no outs in the bottom of the fifth before Fein shut the door, with help from Huff. Fein fanned the next two batters then Huff made a spectacular diving play in the hole at short and threw across the diamond from her knees to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Shadow Ridge loaded the bases with one out but only pushed one across – on a Sofia Mesa walk.
“We just didn’t have the hits at the right time. We couldn’t connect our hits together,” Meyn said. “That’s what was happening.”
Rylee Retzer, the Cougars’ No. 7 hitter, belted a solo shot over the fence in left in the top of the second to give Spanish Springs a 1-0 advantage. She was a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-3.
The 1-0 edge held until fifth, when the Cougars scored twice.
Spanish Springs is 1-3 against Reed this year, including a pair of losses in the DI North tournament last weekend about Bishop Manogue.
“We’re just thinking about the next one,” Davidson said.