Success at the regional level has seemingly come naturally to the Raiders. This year’s regional title was their fourth straight.
Success at the state level had been more allusive – until last year. The Raiders finished third in the four team tournament in 2012 and 2013 and finished second in 2014 before breaking through last year.
Now, they’re attempting to win consecutive state titles for the first time since Reed went back-to-back-to-back in the 1988-1990 seasons.
The Raiders, who also won consecutive state titles in 1978-79 (remember those seasons?), open the tourney this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at Hixson Park on Nevada’s campus against Rancho, the Sunrise region champ. That game follows Spanish Springs and Shadow Ridge, the Sunset champ, which starts at 2 p.m.
About Shadow Ridge
The Mustangs (30-5) will come to Reno as the hottest team in the field.
Shadow Ridge, which is ranked No. 2 in the state (via maxpreps.com), has won 15 straight games. It topped No. 1 Palo Verde twice in the Sunset regional, including in the championship game. The Panthers fell to Reed in the state title game last year and topped the Raiders for the state title two years ago.
Shadow Ridge can pitch and play defense (allowing 2.7 runs per game) but is much scarier with the bat. The Mustangs are averaging 9.2 runs a game this year and have scored double digits 17 times.
Two underclassmen lead the offensive barrage. Sophomore Alisha Shultz is batting .583 (63-for-108) with 38 RBIs and 54 runs scored. Freshman Caitlyn Covington isn’t far behind, hitting at a .560 clip (56-for-100). She leads the team in home runs (5), doubles (8) and RBIs (47).
The Rams (28-7) don’t own a record that’s as shiny as the other Vegas squad that’s making the trip to Reno, but the computers still like them.
Rancho is ranked No. 4 in the state by maxpreps.com.
The Rams have won 18 of their last 19. They won their first three games in the regional tournament by a combined three runs.
This will not be Rancho’s first time this season playing a DI North team. The Rams lost 13-1 to Bishop Manogue, but that was two months ago.
Junior pitcher Sam Pochop is one of the best pitchers in the state. She has compiled a 15-2 record with a 0.45 ERA over 138.2 innings. She’s struck out 243 batters compared with 15 walks.