SPRING CREEK — The Spring Creek softball team kept its playoff hopes alive with a crucial sweep of South Tahoe on Saturday.
The Spartans, who improved to 11-9 in Northern I-A league play, bested the Vikings 10-3 in the first game Saturday and then took the finale 6-3. With the sweep, they picked up the series win by taking two of three games.
“Today was more indicative of who we really are,” Spring Creek coach Chad Nelms said of the sweep compared to Friday’s loss. “We prepared for this style of pitching all week, but (Friday) it just didn’t show up on the field.”
In Saturday’s opener, the Vikings jumped out in front 2-0 thanks to an RBI double by Kaila Griffis to deep center. Griffis came home when Kendra Conard’s single was misplayed in the outfield.
The Lady Spartans were quiet at the plate through the first three innings as Conard held them to just one hit until the bottom of the fourth inning.
When Spring Creek finally unleashed its offense, the team pounded out 10 runs and eight hits in the next three frames. Mikal Jerman got it started with a bloop single, and she later scored when Rashay Williams and Jerman executed a double steal with Jerman taking home.
Miranda Powell smacked a double to the fence to bring Williams home, and Cassie Bastasini singled up the middle to bring Powell around for a 3-2 lead.
The Lady Vikings tied the game at 3-all off an RBI single by Drue Chapman, but it did not stay that way for long.
“In (Saturday’s first game) it was our errors,” South Tahoe coach Shawna Mayo said. “We had a bad inning.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Kathy Macdiarmid started off with a single to center, Serima Thompson was hit by a pitch, and Jerman loaded the bases when she beat out a bunt for a single. Gretchen Plank came through with an RBI single, and Thompson scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Williams’ single brought home Jerman, and Maddie Petersen hit a sacrifice fly as the flood gates opened up. Powell wrapped up the frame with a triple to the fence in right-center field.
“We preach hit the ball with power with less than two strikes and then concentrate on contact with two strikes,” Nelms said of the team’s approach at the plate. “We had success putting some power pitches into play.”
Janaya Conklin picked up the win inside the pitching circle and struck out six.
In Saturday’s second contest, Thompson manufactured an early run with a infield single, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on a South Tahoe error. The game continued back and forth, however, as each team matched their opponent several times.
“We learned that we need to stay positive,” Mayo said. “When we were down 1-0 or 3-1, each time we came back. That’s what we learned this weekend.”
With the score knotted at 3-all, the Spartans scored three times in the bottom of the fifth. Mikayla Elegante led off the frame with a double, Macdiarmid was hit by a pitch, and Plank drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Williams smacked a two-run single through the left side, and Plank scored on an error to make it 6-3.
After that, Elegante settled in and shut down the Vikings the rest of the way. She earned the win by going the distance.
“Both our pitchers did a good job of locating their pitches,” Nelms said. “Janaya moved her pitches up and down, while Mikayla moved them in and out. When they’re both hitting their spots we can keep runs down.”
The defense also came up with several nice plays to fend off the Vikings. Thompson made a leaping grab in the second inning, and Williams later went vertical to snag a line drive in the sixth. One of the top plays for Spartans was a diving stop by Jerman on a hot grounder, and she got to her feet quick enough to force a runner at second in the fourth inning. It turned out to be a clutch play to keep the Vikings from taking a lead.
Spring Creek, which is vying with Dayton (13-8) for the final playoff spot, must beat Elko on Tuesday in order to stay in the hunt.
“Elko will be fired up,” Nelms said. “I’m sure their goal at this point will be avoiding getting swept. Of course, our goal is to sweep them.”
The Lady Vikings won Friday’s game 5-3 as Conard went seven innings allowing six hits and one walk while striking out three.