This is it.
The 4A North baseball and softball regular season end this week. Baseball wraps up Thursday and softball Saturday. The regional baseball tourney begins next Tuesday at host hosts sites. Bishop Manogue will once again host the softball regional tournament, starting two days later.
Programs across the region will play their rivals this week with plenty on the line – especially on In-N-Out’s side of I-395.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the Reed and Spanish Springs baseball teams will reside in opposing dugouts. The Cougars are clasping to the No. 2 seed while the Raiders are fighting for their postseason lives.
The Cougs will take the runner-up spot to the postseason with two wins and may bounce the Raiders in the process. A split could drop Spanish Springs to third and may still end Reed’s season. If the Raiders sweep, they will clinch a postseason berth and could jump as fifth.
On the softball diamond, Reed will host Spanish Springs Saturday afternoon for a season-icing doubleheader. The two squads are tied with Bishop Manogue for first place.
Reed will enter Saturday in no worse than a tie for first place after picking up two forfeit wins (over Hug) this week. Spanish Springs will play Reno twice this week going into the doubleheader.
What do we take from Silver and Blue scrimmage?
A sunburn. Well, at least I did.
I made it almost until May before getting my first t-shirt-shaped sun burn/tan line, which is certainly progress. As is the fact I didn’t jump when the booming cannon went off before the scrimmage at Mackay Stadium on Saturday. Heading into my fifth season being around the team, I’m almost able to pretend I know what I’m doing.
Aloe aside, it’s impossible to know what exactly first-year coach Jay Norvell has after the glorified practice that was played in 15-minute quarters sans kickoffs.
The starters were given a 21-0 deficit at the start and after allowing a 50-yard touchdown drive led by Ty Gangi, rattled off 49 straight.
You can look at that and say ‘sure, the starters are supposed to better than the backups.’ While that’s fair, do you really want the starters to be that much better? Depth has been an issue on this team in year’s past. Saturday’s outcome didn’t do anything to quell those concerns.
Alabama transfer quarterback David Cornwell made his fantasy owners happy (wait?) by throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns – in the first half. However, he donned a no-contact jersey and was given several seconds to throw the ball each time he dropped back.
He was also throwing at the backups on a defense that struggled to get stops a season ago.
After taking over for an injured Tyler Stewart in the middle of the 2016 season, Ty Gangi ignited a stagnant offense, but he has work to do if he’s to start the Sept. 2 opener at Northwestern. Throwing a pair of pick sixes to E.J. Muhammad didn’t embolden his case. Granted, he lined up against the starters, unlike Cornwell.
Norvell made special mention of sophomore Brendan O’Leary-Orange on my radio show Friday afternoon and he showed why on Saturday, going for 180 yards and a score on 10 receptions.
The numbers are nice. They’re shallow, however. Results in a late April don’t correlate to wins in September.
We still don’t know what Nevada will look like, and neither does Norvell and his staff. With a tough road game in Big 10 land looming in the opener, the home opener one week later against Toledo will provide a more realistic measuring stick.
Pack softball surging
Here comes the Wolf Pack.
Nevada swept its first series of the season this weekend from Colorado State and has now won its last four Mountain West series and nine of its last 12 conference contests.
All three wins at Hixson Park came by a single run, including a 14-inning marathon on Saturday that ended with the first of two-straight walk-off defeats.
Freshman Kenzi Goins, a Reed alum, was in the middle of it all. Goins, who made the move from shortstop to first base this season, went 4-for-14 with three RBIs and three runs scored over the weekend.
Goins has now started 39 of Nevada’s 45 games this spring and is batting .316 (tied for fourth on team) with two home runs (tied for second), eight doubles (third), 19 RBIs (tied for third) and is one of only three players on the squad with a triple.
With the dominant last month, Nevada (26-19, 11-7) has moved into third place, just one game back of San Jose State (32-15, 12-6). Utah State (32-12, 14-6) is looking down on the rest of the Mountain West.
The Wolf Pack goes to Boise State (25-17, 7-11) this weekend then hosts San Diego State (26-17, 10-8) May 11-13 to end the regular season.
Unfortunately, there is not a MW Tournament to determine an NCAA bid, that instead goes to the regular-season champ. To surge into the top spot, Nevada will likely have to win out and get help.
Fresno State won last year’s regular-season title and will have a hard time repeating. The Bulldogs sit at 19-20, 9-8.
Nathan can be reached via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show airs Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.