Before the first pitch of the 2019 softball season was delivered, Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson told his team they would have the same goal they have entering every year – play in the season’s last game.
That goal become much more of a reality on Saturday as the Cougars captured their second straight regional title by knocking off McQueen 6-5 in the championship game in Carson City.
“It was a tremendous tournament for us,” Davidson said. “Regionals is very tough and there are a lot of good teams in it. We were fortunate to come out on top.”
The Cougs not only came out on top Saturday, but didn’t drop a single game in the double-elimination tournament. They were tested throughout, however, but rode the right arm of junior Tyra Clary and had some timely offense to propel them to their second consecutive Northern title.
Clary entered the circle for the fourth time in three days Saturday against the Lancers, and fell behind early after McQueen struck for two runs in the first. After multiple lead changes in the game, Spanish Springs scored one in the sixth to take the lead for good, and Clary did the rest.
“She was clutch for us all tournament, and just got stronger as the game went on Saturday,” Davidson said of Clary. “She was a little under the weather physically, but went out and battled and got the job done.”
Clary went the distance and struck out four while allowing just three earned runs and providing an RBI single at the plate. Kilee Pender had a pair of singles and drove in two for the Cougs while Kennedy Dudley provided two of her teams 10 hits.
Spanish Springs reached Saturday’s game after picking up a 3-1 victory against McQueen in the morning and another 3-1 win over Carson in the afternoon. Clary struck out seven in a complete game over the Senators and struck out five in a complete game over the Lancers.
Alysa Micone provided a two-run single in the second inning in the semifinal win over Carson after the Cougs fell behind 1-0 in the first inning. Bianca Nolasco also added an RBI hit in that inning and that was all the offense their team needed.
In the morning game, Savannah Martin and Pender each knocked in runs in the three-run third inning.
Clary let up just three hits and struck out eight over seven innings of work in the opening game of the tournament as the Cougs took care of Reno, 5-0. Kaylah House belted a home run in the win and Martin led the way with three RBIs.
Spanish Springs is headed to the state tournament this week in Las Vegas and will look for its second title in as many years when they open up as the No. 1 seed on Thursday against the winner of Coronado and Centennial from the south. Shadow Ridge earned the other No. 1 seed from the southern region and awaits the winner of McQueen and Basic on Thursday as well. All games will take place at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, with the title game set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
After a couple of practices on Monday and Tuesday, Davidson’s team boarded a bus today for the long trip down south and hopes to bring the trophy back with them when they return.
“We know it’s going to be a tough task, but the girls were very excited and upbeat at practice today (Monday) and are ready for the challenge. I would expect the same from them this week in Las Vegas.”