When Smoke clears, Tahoe has second place | TahoeDailyTribune.com

When Smoke clears, Tahoe has second place

Provided to the Tribune

Fielding only nine regulars with two pitchers, the Tahoe Smoke girls’ softball team was still able to finish second in the under 16 division at the Folsom Tournament last weekend.

The Smoke is made up of girls from South Tahoe High School and is coached by Dan McLaughlin and assistants Ave Barcellos and Bob Novasel.

The Smoke went 2-1 in Saturday’s pool play, defeating the Mustangs 7-2, the Rage 6-5 and losing to eventual tournament champion Aftershock 9-5, giving the club a bye into the semifinals bracket on Sunday, where a rematch with the Rage loomed.

“This was different Rage team than the one we faced in pool play because they threw their top pitcher at us. In pool play we beat their third pitcher,” McLaughlin said.

Trailing the entire game and behind 8-6 going in to the bottom of the seventh inning, the Smoke came back and upset the talented Rage team.

“We haven’t beaten these kinds of teams before,” coach McLaughlin said.

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Danielle Lowe started the rally with a single to lead off the inning; Kelly Bartlett and Molly Novasel hit back-to-back triples to tie the game and Shay McLaughlin singled home Novasel with the winning run to lift the Smoke to the improbable 9-8 victory.

“Every player dreams of a walk-off home run, but a walk-off single is just as much fun,” said a jubilant Shay McLaughlin after the game.

Added coach McLaughlin, “I knew we had a chance because we had ‘Murderers Row’ up for us in the bottom of the seventh.”

Aftershock of Folsom defeat the Smoke in the finals 15-7 as Tahoe ran out of pitching.

“Murderers Row” consists of Lowe, Bartlett, Novasel, McLaughlin and leadoff batter Brittany Barcellos. The five of them finished with 30 runs scored, 30 RBIs, eight doubles, three triples, two home runs, a combined batting average of .605 and an on-base percentage of .671.

Bartlett led the team with a .750 hitting average with eight runs scored, four doubles and a triple. She was 7 for 7 during bracket play on Sunday. Shay McLaughlin batted .714, scored four runs and led the team with an on-base percentage of .786. Mollie Novasel scored six runs and had a Ruthian-slugging average of 1.200 with two doubles, two triples and a home run, while hitting .600. Lowe hit .533 with a home run and nine runs scored, while Brittany Barcellos hit .438 and scored five runs.

The defensive story was the pitching of Bartlett and Kelly Barkley, the catching of Shay McLaughlin and the fielding of shortstop Jen Bigelow and center fielder Lowe.

“Kelly Bartlett was amazing. She pitched in four of the five games and threw nothing but strikes,” coach McLaughlin said. “Kelly Barkley gave us quality innings and continues to grow into an outstanding pitcher. With only two pitchers, we asked a lot of them and they gave us everything they got.”

Catcher Shaylene McLaughlin play well while pulling double duty.

“Shay had volleyball practice in the morning (with her South Tahoe High team) and came down and caught three games in 100-degree weather the first day and two more the next day. She called all the pitches, threw out three runners, picked off one, allowed no stolen bases, made two diving catches on foul pop-ups, hit .714 and led the team with a .786 on-base percentage. She controlled the game both offensively and defensively. Outside of that she didn’t do much,” joked her coach and father. “Her relationship with the pitchers is more than just pitcher-catcher. She knows their strengths, weaknesses and their personalities. She is a major reason why they pitch with so much confidence.”

Lowe also contributed mightily in the field.

“Danielle Lowe made all the plays and saved more bases with her hustle in the outfield than she will ever be given credit for. She is as good a center fielder as I have seen at this level,” raved coach McLaughlin.

Shortstop Bigelow held a youthful infield together, according to coach McLaughlin. With only first baseman Mollie Novasel having much experience, Bigelow stopped balls all over the field, covered second base well, threw out runners and handled the cutoffs extremely well and showed poise and leadership at the demanding position.

“Jen had by far her best tournament defensively,” said coach McLaughlin.

Brittany Barcellos played the outfield and second base where she started two double plays. Delanie Sabac was solid at third base as was Cassy Smith in the outfield, coach McLaughlin said.

The tournament concluded the Smoke’s summer season.

“This is a great way to end the season. These players practiced hard and spend a lot of time honing their fundamentals. They have come a long way,” coach McLaughlin said. “Rich Barna (former South Tahoe and Smoke coach) deserves a lot of credit for our success. He gave them the foundation they needed to be successful. We just added some polish.”