South Tahoe softball hands Div. I-A Northern leader Lowry first league losses, makes statement with series win
The South Tahoe softball team has believed all season that it is one of the top clubs in Div. I-A Northern League. Last weekend, April 15-16, the Vikings showed it on the field.
The Vikings took down league-leading Lowry in a home series last weekend for its biggest wins of the season. South Tahoe took two of three from the Buckaroos, who came into the series riding a 12-game unbeaten streak to start league play.
“This entire week, we knew we wanted to beat this team,” Vikings junior Kendra Conard said. “They were undefeated and we wanted to break that, so we did.”
South Tahoe (9-7 I-A Northern) won the first two games of the series by identical 2-1 margins. The Vikings then rested their ace Conard in the series finale, and Lowry (13-4, 13-2) avoided the sweep with a 26-4 victory.
“It’s good for us to have this and learn from this,” Vikings coach Eric Owens said. “They were undefeated and this was an opportunity to give them a loss and show that we could play with them.”
Under the lights at South Tahoe Middle School on Friday night, the Vikings prevailed 2-1 to notch their biggest win of the campaign. South Tahoe scored in the first and fifth innings, and held off a late comeback to stun the Buckaroos.
“This is our one night game of the year, and we came in wanting it more than any other game,” Vikings senior Nora Anderson said. “We just wanted to claim our field and our colors.”
Anderson scored both of South Tahoe’s runs in the victory, finding her way home after reaching as the leadoff batter on two separate occasions. In the first, Anderson reached on a walk and eventually scored on a two-out single from junior Brooke Erdody to make it 1-0.
Anderson led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and moved to third when Conard doubled in the next at-bat. Senior Bailey Barcellos hit a flare to centerfield that was snagged with a diving catch from Lowry’s Sydney Connors — but Anderson tagged up and raced home to put the Vikings ahead 2-0.
“I was ready for her to catch it, I took the opportunity and went for it,” Anderson said.
Conard held the Lowry hitless through six innings, only allowing two batters to reach base. In the top of the seventh, however, it wasn’t as straightforward as the Buckaroos had their third, fourth and fifth hitters due up.
“We were coming into the meat of their lineup and they had been hitting decently — we knew it was going to be tough,” Conard said. “After I got them out of the way, then I would have other batters that would be easy strikeouts — which they were.”
The Buckaroos strung together three straight one-out hits, and made it 2-1 on a single up the middle by Alyssa Kuskie. Lowry had runners on second and third with one out, but Conard shut down the rally with a pair of strikeouts to deliver the win, including two straight change-ups to finish off Tiana Herrera for the final out.
“It’s a big mind game that you get to play with the batters and they don’t know what to expect,” Conard said. “With two strikes and the game on the line, I knew she was going to want to make contact — so I threw her a ball she wasn’t going to be able to hit.”
Conard finished with 13 strikeouts and one walk in the complete game win, and all three hits she allowed came in the seventh. The junior also collected a team-high two hits Friday night. Anderson was 1-for-2 with two runs while Barcellos (RBI, run), Erdody (RBI), junior Teeva Chambers (double) and junior Rebekah Miller each went 1-for-3.
“Everyone was hitting, everyone was working together and talking in the field and in the dugout,” Conard said. “It was a special one — unforgettable.”
The Vikings opened Saturday’s doubleheader at STHS with a second straight 2-1 win. Lowry opened the scoring in fourth, but South Tahoe answered with the go-ahead runs an inning later on the way to capturing the series.
“It shows the team that we are able to beat anyone if we really commit,” Anderson said. “That’s good going into the second half of our season, because we’re playing tougher teams.”
Conard held the Buckaroos to four runs (one earned) on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks for a second straight complete game win. Each of Lowry’s four hits were singles.
Offensively, four Vikings collected two hits apiece in Saturday’s opener. Conard went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run, junior Drue Chapman was 2-for-2 with two doubles, Anderson finished 2-for-2 with a run and Miller had a 2-for-3 performance. Barcellos added an RBI double.
South Tahoe fell 26-4 in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, unable to complete the three-game sweep. The Vikings went ahead 4-2 in the third, but Lowry answered with 24 straight runs to hand the hosts their most lopsided defeat of the year.
On Monday, April 18, the Vikings hit the road for a nonleague game at Damonte Ranch (Reno, Nev.). South Tahoe lost 10-0 in five innings by the Mustangs (11-7), who are currently fourth in Div. I Northern League.
South Tahoe continued league play Tuesday, April 19, for its second game at Dayton. The Vikings host Fernley in a three-game series this weekend, April 22-23. The series starts Friday at 3 p.m. with a doubleheader scheduled Saturday at 11 a.m.