Versatility on Whittell’s side in Lovelock Friday |

Versatility on Whittell’s side in Lovelock Friday

Douglas Etten

LOVELOCK, Nev. – Whittell got knocked down last weekend, but Silver Stage never knocked them out.

The pressure built, and built, and built on the Lady Warriors, but an outstanding performance in the circle from Marissa Besson in game two, coupled with a offensive rally sparked by Jesse Sayre were enough. It pulled Whittell back from a game one deficit and moved them through into Friday’s 2A Northern League softball tourney in Lovelock.

There they will face-off with White Pine who coach Rich Barna knows has one thing, in only one thing, and that’s pitching.

“They’ve got pitching, that’s one thing we know. Their top pitcher has an earned run average just under one and the other has an average right above one,” Barna said. “Other than that, I don’t know what their defense looks like. Offensively they’ve got a hitter who’s already hit eight out of the ballpark this year. We probably won’t throw her many strikes.”

While Besson got the game two win in what was a no-hit performance, it was Sayre’s big three-run hit in the fifth along with Amanda Harris’ relief for Besson which got the Lady Warriors through game three and into Friday’s regional with White Pine.

If they want to do well from here on out, as is the case with most teams, they’ll need to rely on some very good pitching.

“In practice this week, Marissa and Amanda were throwing pretty well,” Barna said. “Marissa was throwing hard Tuesday and we worked on a game plan for these guys. We were working on the control aspect and making sure that our off-speed stuff was working.”

Harris’ ability to drop balls in the zone with movement paid her and her team dividends a week ago Saturday. After she did her job and the defense got behind her, it was the offense which sparked finally, turning 5-0 Silver Stage lead into a 7-5 Whittell win.

“We have to jump on these guys pretty quick and establish the fact that we can score runs,” Barna said of Friday’s game with White Pine. “They can ten-run you in a heartbeat if you give them the early advantage. WE have to come out and try and score first and take that advantage, especially the psychological one.”

The week of practice leading up to Friday’s game was a good one. They lost a player early in the week to a concussion, but aside from that they come into their regional healthy and off a solid four days of work.

“We worked really hard on base running and how to be a bit more aggressive,” Barna said. “We stranded too many girls on bas and we can’t do that and expect to win this late in the tournament.”

Defense, as always, was again a focal point going into the weekend in Lovelock. A hard-throwing, close-distance round of batting practice has hopefully readied hitters for the type of pitcher they’ll see from here on out.

“When you get this late in the season, you see the teams best pitcher every time you are out on the field,” Barna said. “We had to work on getting quicker hands and I think we are right where we need to be.”

Looking at the tourney bracket, Whittell comes in as the three seed and will play second seeded White Pine.

In the top half of the pairings is top-seeded Yerington who plays in the first game Friday against Incline. The winners of those two match-ups will meet at 4 p.m. Friday with the losers meeting at 2 p.m. to see who will move into Saturday’s semifinal for the one seed.

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