Warriors face a difficult first test
WHS plays No. 1 Longhorns in first round at regionals
By Jeremy Evans
Tribune staff writer
If the Whittell Warriors want inspiration for this week’s Northern 2A regional tournament, they don’t need to look very far.
On the Zephyr Cove campus is teacher and former softball coach Lindsay Wines, who led the Warriors to an improbable zone championship in 2004. Whittell entered the single-elimination tournament that year as the No. 4 seed and an obvious choice to exit early.
The Warriors, though, beat No. 5 Hawthorne in the first round, upset top-seeded Battle Mountain 1-0 in the semifinals, then upset second-seeded Incline in the zone championship game.
“We just wanted to beat Hawthorne,” said Wines, whose team went onto finish third at the state tournament. “It was just a phenomenal weekend. The girls played above and beyond what they thought they could. But I think the Battle Mountain girls were the most surprised.”
On the surface, the 2006 Warriors enter the zone tournament in a similar situation.
Whittell is the No. 4 seed and faces top-seeded Battle Mountain in the first round on Friday in Lovelock. The double-elimination tournament ends on Saturday with the top two teams advancing to state. But there is a difference between the two teams – experience.
First-year coach Izzy Luna doesn’t have any seniors on her team, which finished 5-12 overall and 2-6 in league. Wines’ 2004 team had several seniors and juniors with postseason experience. Current team members Megan Esquivel, Tara Humbird and Courtney Fields were freshmen on that zone title team.
Wines’ last year as coach was in 2005, when Whittell finished 12-16 and lost in the zone tournament to Lovelock in a winner-to-state, loser-out game. The Warriors had six all-league players on that team. Three of those players graduated, but the other three were expected to return this year.
However, would-be seniors Katie Komorowski and Holly Connelly pursued other options this spring, leaving Abby Kingman as the lone returner from the 2005 all-league selections. Komorowski was the team’s top pitcher but decided to go out for track.
Although Connelly and Komorowski would’ve helped the Warriors make another postseason run, Luna is happy with the 11 players she does have on her roster.
“I think some of the girls were surprised when Holly and Katie didn’t come back for their senior years,” Luna said. “We’ve been able to put that in the past and have filled their spots with girls who can get the job done just as well.”
Although Luna is pleased with her team’s progress this season, Whittell’s first-round opponent isn’t exactly ideal.
Battle Mountain has won the past two Northern 2A regular season championships and only allowed three runs in three games last year en route to the zone title. The Longhorns finished third in the state in 2005 and won state in 2001.
“We just got lucky that it was single elimination,” said Wines, who had only 12 players on her 2004 team that upset the Longhorns. “I think Battle Mountain probably would’ve beaten us if they had another chance. But this year’s girls are doing a good job, and Izzy is doing a good job of coaching them. They are definitely still in the hunt.”
Northern 2A Softball Tournament
Game 1: Battle Mountain vs. Whittell, 10 a.m.
Game 2: Lovelock vs. Silver Stage, noon
Game 3: G1 loser vs. G2 loser, 2 p.m. (loser eliminated)
Game 4: G1 winner vs. G2 winner, 4 p.m.
Game 5: G3 winner vs. G4 loser, 10 a.m. (loser eliminated)
Game 6: G4 winner vs. G5 winner, noon (Game 7, if necessary, 2 p.m.)
Note: Double elimination tournament; top two teams advance to state.
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