Tigers fall short in pitching duel
Kali Sargent and Bailee Glover didn’t disappoint fans Tuesday when they clashed in a showdown between two of Northern Nevada’s top high school softball pitchers.
On a sunny and warm spring afternoon, Glover and the North Valley Panthers emerged with a 3-1 win over Sargent and the Douglas Tigers thanks to a three-run rally in the top of the seventh inning.
Douglas (12-5-2 overall, 8-1 Northern Division I) led 1-0 going into the seventh and Sargent was pitching a four-hitter, however, North Valleys (6-6-1 overall, 4-3 league) scored three runs on three hits then turned back the Tigers in the home half of the seventh.
Glover, a first-team all-High Desert League pitcher last year, finished with a five-hitter, eight strikeouts, four walks and left seven Douglas base runners stranded. Sargent, the Sierra League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2013, allowed seven hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
“They are playing well right now,” Douglas coach Rob Parks said of the Panthers. “They beat Reed in the (Reed Spring Break) tournament and today they beat us.”
While handing the Tigers their first loss of the season, North Valleys again showed it is a team to reckon with. The Panthers were coming off a big 1-0 tournament victory Saturday against Reed, a game in which Glover pitched a one-hitter and struck out 12. By the way, Reed defeated Douglas in last year’s region tournament finals.
“We are riding Bailee’s coattails right now,” Panthers coach Danielle Verlanic said of Glover, a junior right-hander. “The Reed game did a lot to build our confidence. That’s what it’s all about right now; to know we are a talented team that is good enough to beat the top teams.”
North Valleys led off the seventh when Valerie Quam capped a seven-pitch at-bat with a line drive single down the third base line. After Douglas third baseman Morgan Gunnell caught a pop foul for the first out, Baleigh McCuskey doubled to center field to drive Quam home with the tying run. Bailee Nickelson reached base on a fielder’s choice and Sargent got a strikeout, however, Pender drove a 1-1 pitch off the center field fence for a bases clearing double.
Douglas took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Makayla Shaver took a 1-2 pitch the opposite way for a leadoff double to right field. Shaver advanced to third on Katie Chieffo’s sacrifice bunt and dashed home on a two-out passed ball.
The Tigers missed other opportunities, however, as they left seven runners stranded on the bases. Among those opportunities, Corryne Diaz and Allison Meyer opened the home half of the fifth inning with singles, but eventually left the bases loaded after Glover retired the side on a fly out to center field. In the bottom of the seventh, Maddie Parks stepped into the 10th pitch she saw from Glover and lined a single to center, but the Tigers saw their rally end when Quam fielded a ground ball up the middle and turned a 6-3 double play to end the game.
“We’ve got to do a better job of bringing the runners home when they’re on base,” coach Parks said. “But give them credit. We hit the ball and they made some plays.”
Sargent also worked out of trouble in the fifth after Quam lined a double down the third base line and advanced to third on Abby Almond’s single up the middle. Sargent set down the next three batters on a pop fly to Diaz at shortstop, a short fly to Leonna Mortimer in left field and a strikeout.
The Tigers had their highlights on defense, too. Catcher Kelly Sonnemann picked a runner off second base for the first out in the second inning, and Katie Chieffo charged a ground ball into right field and threw the batter out at first to end the fourth.