South Tahoe softball stunned by host Spring Creek in season-ending loss at Div. I-A Northern Region tournament |

South Tahoe softball stunned by host Spring Creek in season-ending loss at Div. I-A Northern Region tournament

Anthony Gentile |

South Tahoe players celebrate after freshman Malorie Neiger (14) scored the game-winning run in the Vikings’ victory over Elko in the opening round of the Div. I-A Northern Region tournament at Spring Creek last Thursday, May 12.
Courtesy Anthony Mori / Elko Daily Free Press |

A stellar season for the South Tahoe softball team came to a stunning end at the Div. I-A Northern Region tournament last Friday, May 13. The fourth-seeded Vikings suffered an upset 8-6 loss to sixth-seeded Spring Creek on the Spartans’ home field, ending their 2016 campaign a win shy of playing for a state berth.

“I am very proud of the players’ efforts and contributions made towards a great season,” Vikings coach Eric Owens said. “ That, along with our wonderful coaching staff and parent support, made this a great year.”

South Tahoe (14-14) had each of its tournament games decided by two runs or less, including a pair of walk-off contests to open postseason play Thursday, May 12. After an 8-7 win over fifth-seeded Elko in the first round, the Vikings fell to top-seeded Fallon 1-0 in nine innings to drop to the loser’s bracket the following day.

In an elimination game against the host Spartans on Friday morning, South Tahoe built an early lead but ultimately couldn’t hang on. The Vikings had a 6-0 advantage in the fourth before Spring Creek rallied with eight straight runs to end the visitors’ season with a stunning defeat.

“I am very proud of the players’ efforts and contributions made towards a great season.”Eric OwensVikings coach

Junior Kendra Conard led South Tahoe with three hits in the season-ending loss, finishing 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs. Senior Bailey Barcellos went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while senior Nora Anderson, junior Drue Chapman and freshman Sydney McCarthy each added two hits and a run.

In the circle, Conard allowed eight runs (six earned) on nine hits against Spring Creek. The right-hander struck out seven and walked two, and kept the Spartans scoreless through the first three frames.

The defeat kept South Tahoe from a matchup with second-seeded Fernley, in which it would have needed two victories over the Vaqueros to punch a ticket to the state tournament. Fernley beat Spring Creek 7-4 on Friday afternoon the way to winning the regional championship the next day.

On Thursday morning, South Tahoe opened the tournament with a walk-off 8-7 win over Elko. With the game tied and two outs in the seventh, McCarthy hit a bloop single that scored freshman Malorie Neiger and secured victory for the Vikings, who tied the game an inning earlier with a three-run homer from Conard.

Conard powered South Tahoe’s offense in the opening round win, hitting a pair of home runs with five RBIs and two runs. Anderson collected a team-high three hits with an RBI and two runs while McCarthy (RBI, run), Barcellos (double, run) and junior Rebekah Miller finished with two hits apiece. Freshman Teagan Williamson added a hit and an RBI.

Conard allowed seven runs (four earned) on 13 hits in 7.0 innings. She struck out eight and walked two.

In the winner’s bracket Thursday afternoon, South Tahoe suffered a narrow extra-inning defeat against top-seeded Fallon. The Vikings fell 1-0 in nine innings to the Greenwave, who prevailed on a walk-off single from Faith Cornmesser that broke a scoreless tie.

Cornmesser’s game-winning single was one of six allowed by Conard in a complete game performance, and the decisive run was unearned. The junior struck out four and walked one while stymying the Greenwave.

South Tahoe was limited to four hits by Fallon starter Kayla Buckmaster in the pitcher’s duel — the junior had 15 strikeouts and two walks. Barcellos finished 2-for-3 with Anderson and Chapman accounting for the other two hits.

In its second season under Owens, South Tahoe reached its ultimate goal of making the regional tournament. Led by team captain Barcellos along with the core of Anderson, Conard and junior Brooke Erdody, South Tahoe qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2012 — and laid a foundation for future success.

“Confidence is a process and gives us a chance to have success when the big moment comes,” Owens said. “It’s not always going to be the outcome we want, but it alters the frame of mind.

“This frame of mind will plant seeds for next year, and if the passion and work ethic is there to go along with our outstanding group of freshman and leadership from the junior class, then our path to regionals will be a focused one.”

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