Warriors earn first state tourney victory
RENO – The more Whittell High participates in the state softball tournament, the more comfortable they become.
Whittell won its first Nevada 2A tournament game in school history, blasting rival Incline 9-1 in an elimination game Friday at the Reno Sports Complex at San Rafael Park.
Preceding and following the historic win, the Warriors were held in check by White Pine’s Marly Chacas in a 5-2 defeat on Friday and The Meadows’ hurler Jeremee Peters ended the Warriors’ dream postseason with a 6-1 romp on Saturday.
“We go into zone No. 4 and we win the zone tournament and we come here and we got to the final day of the state tournament,” said coach Lindsay Wines, whose Warrors finished 18-16 overall. “When the umpire comes up to you after the game and says your team never quits, it’s a nice compliment and these girls don’t.”
Whittell fanned 10 times against Chacas but started to figure her out after being retired in order in the first two innings. Anna Kingman, Sara Piccola and Holly Connelly each had multiple hits.
White Pine, which went on to win the state title, erased a 1-0 deficit by scoring all of its runs in the fourth inning. Six hits, including a two-run double by Chacas, thwarted the Warriors’ upset bid.
The Warriors attempted a two-out rally in the last of the seventh as Piccola and Connelly singled, but Chacas registered her 10th strikeout to preserve the win.
Both of Kingman’s hits went for extra bases as she tripled and doubled.
Whittell gained a huge edge going into its elimination game with Incline on Friday afternoon when the Highlanders lost a marathon 10-inning game to The Meadows.
“I had mixed feelings … I didn’t know if that would be good or bad because we sat around for about an hour after our game,” Wines said. “I know they went through a lot of emotional highs and lows in their game, but I guess it worked out to our benefit because we felt if we jumped on them early we’d have a lot of success.”
By the time the game started, fans were retreating to their vehicles for winter clothing. The temperature dropped 10-15 degrees and a threat of rain enveloped the wind-swept field.
But the Warriors warmed to the occasion.
Whitney Gielow’s RBI single put Whittell ahead 1-0 in the first and Kaitie Green no-hit the Highlanders through four innings.
But the turning point came in the bottom of the fourth inning when nine straight Warriors reached base, accounting for seven runs. Gielow’s single to left scored two, while Green, Piccola and Sasha Silver connected for RBI singles. Katlin Willens tripled and singled during the rally and Tina Hordzwick had a run-scoring groundout.
“The big inning was important for us because I think everyone was tired and getting it over fast was better,” Gielow said.
Jenica Park broke up Green’s no-hit bid with a sharp single to right to lead off the fifth inning. Green allowed two additional hits during the Highlanders’ one-run sixth, but retired Incline in order in the final frame.
“It was really tiresome the first game, so the second game I wasn’t expecting to do well,” said Green, who struck out one and walked one. “Because we played them so many times we knew whether to pitch them inside ball or outside, high or low. Whitney called it. She knows them better than I do and I just listen to my catcher.”
Kingman, Green, Gielow, Willens each had two hits as the Warriors’ totaled 10.
Peters, a 5-foot-7 senior, ended the Warriors’ state title aspirations on Saturday morning. She limited Whittell to two hits – both of which came off the bat of Piccola.
Green scattered eight hits but was victimized by four errors.
Still, the Warriors went home with an 18-win season, a regional championship, their first state tournament victory and third overall in the state.
“This is a great group,” Wines said. “We have only 12 girls, but it’s a tight group. We’ve talked about it all season, how close this group is and they really help each other out.”