Whittell baseball, softball teams fall a win shy of state at Div. IV Northern Region tournament
CARLIN, Nev. — The Whittell baseball and softball teams had their postseason runs play out in similar fashion at the Div. IV Northern Region tournament last weekend, May 13-14. Ultimately for both Warriors’ clubs, their campaigns came to an end at Carlin against East League opposition a win shy of the state tournament.
Whittell baseball (8-13) opened the playoffs with an 8-4 loss to East top seed Mineral County (Hawthorne, Nev.) on Friday morning. The Warriors erased an early four-run deficit and scored three in the top of the sixth to make it 4-4, but the Serpents answered with four runs in the next half-inning en route to victory — freshman Cody Ruby started for WHS.
“We came all the way back, and then we had a play where we could have scored; we held a guy up and that killed our momentum and our attitude,” Warriors baseball coach Tobias Donahue said. “It showed in the final innings.”
In an elimination game Friday afternoon, the Warriors bounced back by stunning West League champion Virginia City 8-5. Whittell had lost each of its regular season meetings against the Muckers but exacted revenge to bounce them from the tournament. Virginia City had a 16-0 record entering the postseason before going two-and-out at regionals.
“It was something that the guys had been looking forward to all season,” Donahue said. “Each game, we saw that we could play with them if we just limited our mistakes.”
Senior Chris Evans started for Whittell in the victory, and threw 5.0 innings — junior Josh Burch pitched the final two frames. After being held in check by Virginia City ace Tanner Uken in the teams’ previous two meetings, the Warriors broke through for eight runs against Muckers No. 2 starter Isaiah Yoder.
Whittell returned to action Saturday against East second seed Wells (Nev.) in the loser’s bracket final. With a state berth on the line, the Warriors fell to the Leopards 15-4 in five innings — and were stopped short of a second straight appearance at the state tournament after finishing runner-up in 2015.
“It was kind of a microcosm of our season,” Donahue said. “How well we could play when we wanted to and were having fun, and then what happened when we got down on each other and were more worried about what was going wrong instead of how to make things right.”
Whittell softball (8-7-2) started its postseason run with an 11-4 loss to East second seed Wells in the first round Friday morning. The Warriors and Leopards were tied 4-4 after the first before Wells scored seven straight runs to win the game going away.
On Thursday afternoon, Whittell bounced back with a 9-4 win over win over league rival and West second seed Smith Valley. The Warriors delivered a win in the rubber match with the Bulldogs to avoid elimination and advance to the second day of the tournament.
In the loser’s bracket final Friday morning, the Warriors lost 14-9 to East top seed Eureka (Nev.) to end their season. The Vandals went on to lose to Wells in the regional final. Whittell delivered a postseason victory for the first time since 2011, but ultimately couldn’t keep its season alive with losses to each of its East League counterparts.
Both Whittell teams began their 2016 campaigns with new coaches — Donahue and softball coach Kelly Megee — and both clubs made strides throughout the season. Each squad earned a second consecutive postseason appearance and produced a win at regionals before being knocked out.
“We made some good improvements with the guys that were younger and less experienced,” Donahue said. “It was a good building year for the team — and getting back to zone was fun.”