Conard no-hits Whittell, South Tahoe wins rivalry game 14-0
ZEPHYR COVE — The South Tahoe and Whittell softball teams met on the diamond Tuesday for the first time since changing leagues two seasons ago — and the Vikings’ best player stole the show with a dominant performance. Kendra Conard no-hit the host Warriors as South Tahoe took the latest edition of the crosstown rivalry 14-0 in five innings at Zephyr Cove Park.
“It was really fun — we don’t get to play them very much and they’re our rival school,” Conard said. “I wish we could play them more — play them on their field, play them on our field and see how it goes.”
Conard’s speed and command in the circle along with a quick start offensively led South Tahoe (9-16) to a decisive win over Whittell (15-8). The right-hander struck out 13 and retired the first 13 batters she faced before committing an error in the bottom of the fifth that led to Whittell’s only baserunner of the game.
Two outs away from a five-inning perfect game, Conard mishandled a ground ball from Whittell pinch hitter Makena Snipes then made an errant throw that allowed Snipes to reach second. South Tahoe’s starter then bounced back to strike out the next two batters for her second no-hitter of the season.
“It’s really cool,” Conard said. “These past couple games I’ve been shooting for getting shutouts and no-hitters, and this time I actually did it.”
Offensively, South Tahoe set the tone with three straight to lead off the game. The Vikings scored five runs on six hits in the opening frame — including run-scoring hits from center fielder Drue Chapman, second baseman Nina Barnhart, first baseman Brooke Erdody, third baseman Sativa Chambers and a two-out triple from first baseman Samantha Kallas that made it 5-0.
In the top of the second, the Vikings extended their lead to 8-0 — Chapman and Barnhart got on base with one out and eventually scored on wild pitches by Whittell starter Kelsey Kjer, and with two outs catcher Haley Crowson hit an RBI single to cap the rally. South Tahoe sent 11 batters to the plate in the next inning while scoring six runs to make it 14-0 — Crowson and shortstop Bailey Barcellos each had run-scoring hits in the frame.
“We knew it was the end of the season and we wanted to end on good terms,” Conard said. “We did, and we played really well.”
Madison Idso replaced Kjer (L, 11-7) in the circle in the top of the third, and held South Tahoe scoreless while pitching the fourth and fifth innings. In the top of the fifth, Idso struck out three straight batters allowing a leadoff single and issuing a walk.
Pitching with the Vikings well in front, Conard struck out seven of the last eight batters she faced en route to the no-hitter. Whittell didn’t hit a ball out of the infield in any of its 16 plate appearances — Kjer, right fielder Tatum Libert and Snipes each ended at-bats with a ground out.
“We’re not used to seeing that type of speed at our level at all, and that was just completely new for the girls,” Warriors head coach Dave Galicia said. “But it definitely did serve a purpose, and it sent and wake-up call.”
Conard (W, 9-15) completed a stellar 2015 campaign in style Tuesday with her 13th double-digit strikeout performance of the season. The sophomore finished with 227 strikeouts in 139 innings to go along with nine home runs and a .746 average at the plate.
Both South Tahoe and Whittell have young teams, and each squad celebrated its senior class on Tuesday. The Warriors had a pregame ceremony for catcher Dominique Ogilvie, their lone senior, and cheered her on during a trip around the bases after the contest.
“When she came her three years ago, it was work for her from that point on — she’s had to work every step of the way,” Galicia said of Ogilvie. “She’s improved and she proved herself — she’s one of the leaders on the team and really enjoying her senior year.”
The Vikings said goodbye to three seniors in their season finale — Crowson, Barnhart and Alyssa Slater. Crowson finished 3-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs, Barnhart batted cleanup and went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs, and Slater made a pinch-hit appearance in the fifth.
“This season went really, really well,” Conard said. “We started off kind of rough, but we really picked ourselves up toward the end of the season.”
Tuesday’s game marked first contest between South Tahoe and Whittell in two seasons, and the third and final meeting between the crosstown rivals during the 2014-15 school year. The Vikings and Warriors met in girls soccer in the fall and girls basketball during the winter, with South Tahoe prevailing each time.
“We kept it really friendly, it was really fun, there were a lot of smiles out there and a lot of joking,” Galicia said. “It’s important for both schools to keep a good, friendly relationship going.”
While South Tahoe’s season ended on Tuesday, Whittell begins play in the Div. IV Northern League tournament Friday at Wells High. The third-seeded Warriors face second-seeded Eureka at noon — they will play a second game on Friday, and the double-elimination tournament continues Saturday.
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