Reed completes first sweep Spanish Springs since 2013, takes No. 1 seed into regional tournament
If the final game of the regular season on Saturday afternoon was a film, it would have been difficult to script it any better.
Two cross-town rivals (Reed and Spanish Springs). Turbulent weather (persistent wind and rain starting to fall). High stakes (the league title was on the line). Juxtaposition (a freshman pitcher trying to silence a veteran squad). It was all there. Then it got better.
After being honored as one of nine seniors playing on Reed’s home field for the final time before the second game of the doubleheader, leadoff hitter and four-year starter Jessica Sellers dug in with the Raiders down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh and a runner on first.
“I was just thinking, ‘the team needs me and right now I need to get a base hit.’ That’s all I was thinking,” Sellers would later say.
Not two minutes before the heavens opened up to a spring deluge, Sellers made her last home at bat memorable. She belted a two-run walk-off home run to left center that gave the Raiders a 4-3 win, their first sweep of the Cougars since 2013, and a second consecutive league title.
“It was breathtaking with it being Senior Day,” Sellers said. “It was breathtaking. It was so awesome.”
Said Reed coach Jon Wunder: “You couldn’t ask for a better person to be up in that spot.”
The Raiders’ second win of the day (they won game one, 10-1), extended their winning streak to 25 games when including a pair of forfeits from Hug on Tuesday and Thursday. The four-time defending regional champs (30-2-1, 20-2) will be the No. 1 seed when the tournament starts Thursday at Bishop Manogue.
For the Cougars, Sellers’ bomb not only ended league title aspirations, but hopes for the No. 2 seed as well. Spanish Springs (26-7, 18-4) dropped into a tie with Bishop Manogue. The two teams split their series, however, the Miners own the tiebreaker (points for wins of defeated opponents) over the Cougs.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said.
Freshman pitcher Tyra Clary dominated much of the game leading up to Sellers’ heroics. Reed got two runs off her in the first, then Clary allowed just one runner to get past first base until the final inning.
All four runs she allowed were earned on seven hits and two walks. She struck out four.
Her counterpart, senior Julia Jensen, picked up her second victory of the afternoon. Jensen went seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits while fanning 10 and walking no one. Despite the sterling numbers, she was in line for the defeat until Sellers reversed that potential story line.
“Julia was pitching her butt off,” Sellers said.
It was another senior, Gabby Kahl, who set the table for Sellers. Leading off the final frame, she hit a soft liner over Clary’s head. The Cougars’ freshman hurler got a glove on the ball, but it trickled past her and a sprinting Kahl just beat out the throw.
With both pitchers in control, it appeared Rylee Retzer’s two-out solo home run in the top of the fourth would stand as the game winner. Retzer hit a full-count offering into the teeth of a strong wind blowing in from right and deposited it 25 feet beyond the fence in right center.
Her blast came one inning after the Cougars scored twice in the third to tie the game at 2-2. Hunter Travers led off with a ground-rule double to left and two batters later, Katelyn Townsend plated her with a bloop double to left. An error brought in the tying run.
“This game is about momentum. We had some then we kick the ball around, extending their inning, then they had a kid come up and drive one to put them ahead,” Wunder said. “But we’ve been there. We never gave up. Man, you can’t think of a better way to send your seniors out than that.”
Sellers was the only player on either team with a multi-hit game. She went 2-for-3 with two runs driven in and scored twice.
Final 4A North softball standings. The regional tournament at Bishop Manogue starts Thursday. pic.twitter.com/9W9bNuvunU
— Nathan Shoup (@Trib_Shoup) May 6, 2017
Spanish Springs, the defending state champion, will open regional tournament play against No. 6 Reno (15-16, 12-10) on Thursday at Bishop Manogue at 2:30 p.m. It be the two team’s third meeting their past five games. The Cougars swept the Huskies this week by scores of 12-1 and 7-2.
Reed drew No. 8 Carson (11-21, 10-12) at 12:30 p.m. The Raiders beat the Senators by scores of 9-2 and 13-1 last month.
Reed 10, Spanish Springs 1
The Raiders pounded out nine hits and get help from a trio of Cougars’ errors in a commanding 10-1 game one win.
Allie Hughes (2-for-4, home run, double, three RBIs, two runs) and Rheanna Smith (2-for-3, home run, four RBIs, two runs) carried the Raiders’ offense.
Aubrey Parks was 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Cougars.
Jensen pocketed her first complete-game win of the day, allowing a lone unearned run on four hits. She struck out 10 and walked no one.
Her combined line in the two victories: 14 innings pitched, four runs (two earned), eight hits, 20 strikeouts and zero walks.