Softball: Stephanie Harper contains Senators as Douglas stops Carson

It's always been an age old question when a favored team is knocked off by the underdog rival. Did the favorite come out flat or is it just a matter that the underdog deserves all the credit?

When the Douglas softball team beat Carson 4-3 on Thursday at CHS behind the arm of Stephanie Harper, maybe it was a combination of both. The Senators did look flat. But a big reason why Carson looked flat was because of Harper.

"Their girl did a fantastic job changing her speeds," Carson coach Scott Vickrey said. "She did a really good job of keeping us off balance."

Harper would work the outside part of the plate, which set up her curveball on the inside corner.

"She did a great job pitching," Douglas coach Andy Mitchell said. "She her spots and kept the ball low and got a lot of groundballs. She did a fantastic job."

The result has to be considered a huge surprise since Carson took to Douglas in a scrimmage and also beat the Tigers 17-6 at the Lassen Tournament in Susanville, Calif., earlier in the year.

"They beat us up pretty badly in a scrimmage and they beat us real badly in Susanville," Mitchell said. "it's a real confidence builder for us."

And it also gives Douglas an advantage in the race for second in the Sierra League. The Tigers improved to 8-3 in league while Carson (16-5) fell to 9-4. The two teams will play again in a doubleheader, beginning at 10 a.m. at Douglas.

"We need to get the next two from them," Vickrey said. "We're looking forward to Saturday."

Nikki Keller deserved a better fate on the mound for Carson as she allowed four unearned runs, all coming in the fourth inning on a defensive breakdown by the Senators when they comitted the last of their four errors. Keller went on to pitch a complete game.

"I'm a little disappointed," Vickrey said. "The girls were pretty flat the first four innings.

"Nikki pitched a pretty good game. We made some mistakes. We need to execute better."

But Vickrey also gave plenty of credit to Douglas. "They played fantastic," he said. "I don't want to take anything away from Douglas. They beat us."

Another big reason why Douglas won was the support that Harper received as the Tigers played flawless defense. "The defense did well," Mitchell said.

In the fourth, Douglas had runners at second and third with one out on the strength of two Carson errors. Keller intentionally walked Marina Diaz to load the bases.

Keller got a popup for the second out. But then Mackenzie Cauley hit a shot into the hole that was fielded by shortstop Christa Casci.

Cauley beat Casci's throw for an infield single and two runs ended up scoring when Krista Mattice's throw home from first was late, allowing the second run to score.

Cauley went to second on the throw home and another throwing error allowed two more runs to score with Cauley coming all the way around to make it 4-0.

Up to that point, Harper had retired the first nine batters she faced, striking out five, including striking out the side in the third.

"I was just going out and pitching my best and keeping them on their toes and keeping it low," Harper said. "It's a big win for us. It just puts them back on their toes and we're going to come out and fight Saturday."

Harper also retired the first batter she faced in the fourth before Kaitlin Burroughs was hit by a pitch to become Carson's first baserunner. Abby Rankl then reached on a bunt single. Dacey Hassey and Candice Rutledge each hit RBi singles to make it 4-2.

In the fifth, Casci tripled and scored on Burroughs' single to make it 4-3. In the seventh, Sarah Evans just missed tying the game when she hit a flyball to straightaway centerfield, but Lauren Hoppe made the catch at the wall for the second out of the inning.

Katie McEwan followed with a single, but Harper struck out the next batter for her seventh strikeout to end the game.

Rankl had two hits for Carson. Donna Judd and Katrina Morgan each added a hit for Douglas as Keller held the Tigers to three hits.


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