Hughes’ three-run shot in the third is enough for winningest pitcher in state history
RENO – The 4A North hierarchy remains intact.
Reed celebrated its fifth straight regional title on Saturday afternoon, besting Bishop Manogue, 4-2, at Bishop Manogue.
The victory, Reed’s 29th straight, came almost two months after the Raiders (34-2-1) last lost – when they were swept by the Miners (30-7) on the same field in a Saturday doubleheader.
“It goes back to the first time we played Manogue this season,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said. “When we were done with those two games, I was really impressed with what I saw … I said, ‘We will win the rest of our league games, we have that ability.’ You’re going to go as far as your seniors are going to take you.”
Senior Julia Jensen was her dominant self. She allowed two runs on seven hits in the complete-game victory while fanning 10 and walking a pair. She was provided a memory in the seventh inning to differentiate this year’s title: A busted eyebrow.
Leading off the seventh, Alex Ferrell hit a comebacker to Jensen that took a nasty hop out of a divot in front of the circle that kicked up and split open Jensen’s brow. Once the cut was glued shut, Jensen closed the game.
“As soon as I saw her go down, I was definitely scared,” senior catcher Rheanna Smith said. “But we knew Julia wasn’t one to (leave) the game.”
Jensen got the next two batters, allowed an infield single, then started the celebration with a game-ending lineout to Ali Hernandez at third as the tying run stood on first.
Wunder said there was initial legitimate concern he’d have to pull his senior ace, who set the state record for career victories 24 hours earlier.
“Oh, there was absolutely doubt in my mind. You’re not sure if it’s going to close,” he said. “Once we got that first out, I was like ‘alright, she’s okay.’”
All four runs Reed scored came via a pair of long balls, from two seniors.
After two straight hit batters, Allie Hughes deposited a three-run home run to left center in the bottom of the third. With the lead whittled to 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Smith led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo round tripper of her own to left center that provided Jensen some insurance.
“Just missed location,” said Bishop Manogue coach Dave Hargrove of the two home runs. “You can’t miss over the plate.”
Smith also hit a two-run home run in Friday’s win over Bishop Manogue that dropped the Miners into the loser’s bracket. Last year, she severely injured her knee in one of the final practices before the regional tournament. She just returned to the lineup in the final month of the season.
“This one feels different overall. The whole season felt different,” Smith said. “Nothing against any of the other years. But this year was definitely something special.”
“Getting Rheanna back into the lineup in this big situation (was a big deal),” Wunder said. “Jillian Kygar, our freshman, did a fantastic job all year, but you can’t replace experience.”
Bishop Manogue outhit Reed, 7-3, with both its runs coming in the top of the sixth on a Baily McLaughlin two-run home run to right. Her bomb momentarily pulled the Miners within a run, only for Smith to rebuttal.
Maggie Joseph threw the final three innings for the Miners. She allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts and did not walk a batter. She relieved Hannah Blas, who spun the first three. Blas retired the first eight batters she faced then the two hit batters and Hughes bomb ended her afternoon.
Reed will make its way to Las Vegas next week for the state tournament, starting Thursday at Bishop Gorman. Two years ago, the Raiders celebrated a state title in Vegas.
“It (experience) helps a lot,” Wunder said. “These kids have made that trip before. We’re obviously going to celebrate this through the weekend and then Monday, I don’t know that there’s a lot more we can do, other than our mental preparation. The key here is to keep everybody healthy.”
The Raiders will not know their opponent or what time they play until Monday’s play-in game between the Sunrise and Sunset runners up.
Nine-run first bounces Spanish Springs
RENO – The momentum of two comeback walk-off wins one day prior didn’t carry over to Saturday morning for the Cougars.
Fighting with host Bishop Manogue for a spot in the title game, the reigning state champs allowed nine runs in the home half of the first and ultimately fell 17-7 in six innings.
“I don’t think it was running out of gas, we just didn’t play very well today,” Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said. “This team has been so resilient all year. They never quit. They battled … For the young group we had, it’s a valuable experience. I think they did a tremendous job.”
Down 12-3 through innings, junior catcher Aubrey Parks belted a grand slam to left center that brought the visitors within 12-7. That did it for the scoring, however.
The Miners added a single run in the fourth and added four more in the sixth to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
Mirinda Nichols was the third pitcher Davidson went to in the decisive first inning after the Miners’ first eight batters successfully reached base.
Nichols ended up throwing what amounted to a complete game, allowing seven runs (five earned).
“(Nichols) did a fantastic job, kept it close, gave us a shot,” Davidson said. “And that’s all you can ask for.”
The Miners finished with 17 hits as a team.
Spanish Springs finished the year with a 29-8 record, taking third in the regular season and in the regional tournament. The team only had one senior starter.