After a week of preseason scrimmages, the South Tahoe Lady Vikings softball team officially began league play at Churchill March 16-17 to face off against Fallon’s Lady Wave.
South Tahoe was swept 17-0, 18-3 and 16-0, respectively, in the three-game series.
Although not the result coaches and players were aiming for, this is very much a learning experience and an opportunity to let the dust settle. South Tahoe had a similar experience early in the season last year, but managed to rebound.
“We went to Churchill County [last year] to start the season out and lost all three games,” said South Tahoe head coach Eric Owens. “Then our season went in a different direction. We got better and went to regionals as a No. 4 seed.”
To put it in perspective, South Tahoe lost to Fallon, 18-0, in the first league game of 2016; their loss to Fallon in the regional playoffs later that year was only 1-0.
Owens explained that these initial games in the season act a lot like spring training and the scores don’t necessarily reflect the team’s process. The Vikings ultimately completed the 2016 season at a virtual draw, going 14-14 overall for the season and 14-11 in league play. Owens said the team lost three seniors this year and is working around an injury in senior starting pitcher Kendra Conrad.
Conrad experienced a shoulder injury that caused the team to rearrange its roster and move up some younger talent from the junior varsity team. Although still able to pitch, Conrad will have to rehab her shoulder injury before being 100-percent at both pitching and hitting. Owens said he expects Conrad to make a full recovery and get stronger as the season progresses.
This year the team brings an even mix of talent, with four seniors, five sophomores and two freshmen. Owens said that players are still getting a feel for their positions and trying to get more time on the field. As was the case with several other sports in the Tahoe area, weather put a damper on days available for practice and that has impacted performance.
“Once we get to the point where we can start playing a little more and these girls are identifying their roles, I think the season can go a decent direction,” said Owens. “It’s going to be a season of ups and downs and that’s the way I’m looking at it this year. Every series we play is going to have a different feel to it.”
The team heads to Elko March 24 for another three-game series. The Lady Vikings were able to go 2-1 in the series against Elko last year. According to Owens, the time on the road is beneficial in that it can help things solidify for the team.
“Puzzle pieces are spread on the table and we’re trying to put them together to get a better picture,” he said. “The girls need some bonding time … and that will help us succeed further in our season.”