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Tigers will opener in 25 inngs

by Donnie Nelson

It wasn’t even close. However, the first-round Class 4A Northern Zone softball game between Douglas and McQueen sure seemed like it was the longest high school game in the National Federation State High School Association’s history.

Lori Shephard was simply masterful in the circle and Rebecca Goodspeed was outstanding, both in the field and at the plate, as the Tigers outlasted the Lancers, 1-0, in 25 innings Thursday at the Shadow Mountain complex in Sparks.

“Have I ever been involved with anything like this? No, never,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “This is a veteran team. It was one of those games where whoever was going to blink first was going to lose.”

Douglas, the No. 5 seed, was scheduled to play Galena, the defending state champ and No. 1 seed, in a winner’s bracket semifinal Friday afternoon and another game – either a winner’s bracket final or loser’s bracket semifinal – in the evening. The loser’s bracket final and championship final are set for today.

Shephard went the distance Thursday, giving up just nine hits and no walks while striking out eight over three hours and 23 minutes of work. She hurled a total of 215 pitches, 169 going for strikes, and only gave up one extra-base hit, a lead off double by Summer Cochran in the bottom of the 10th. She faced 86 batters and only allowed 17 balls out of the infield.

“To shut them out takes an exceptional performance,” Rippee said.

Goodspeed, who finished 3-for-10 at the plate, drove home what would prove to be the game-winning run in the top of the 25th with a two-out single to center.

Gonzales started the marathon-ending rally when she reached on an error with one out. Actually, she drilled a hard shot – a one-hopper – into the hole at short and the best the players on the left side of McQueen’s infield defense could do was knock it down with their gloves.

Gonzales advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jenny Smokey. She probably would have scored on Goodspeed’s clutch hit, but she scored for certain when McQueen’s centerfielder bobbled the ball while trying to come up with it and set herself for the throw to the plate.

The NFHS record for the most innings played in a softball game is 35, set by two southern California teams in 1983.

Huntington Beach of Ocean View defeated Huntington Beach of Marina 1-0 in a game which started April 26 and concluded May 5.

Waterloo West defeated Garnavillo, both of Iowa, 2-1 in 31 innings on July 12, 1986, for the record for most innings played in a game on a single day. It hasn’t been confirmed if the Douglas-McQueen game is the longest in Nevada’s history.

Shephard was rocking and firing strikes all day.

She had a one-hitter with five strikeouts going through seven innings – the end of regulation – and allowed only one runner to reach second (Cochran, who singled and stole second with two outs in the seventh). Two other McQueen batters reached on an error and one was throw out while trying to stretch a hit into a double (Rosie Contri made the throw and Goodspeed the tag at second for the final out of the second inning).

Not to be outdone, McQueen starter Erin Amestoy had a four-hitter going through seven innings. She finished with a 10-hitter, giving up just one walk and one hit batsman while striking out five.

Douglas had its best chance to win it in regulation in the seventh. The Tigers had Kim Gonzales, who reached on a fielder’s choice after forcing Brooke Kizer (single) out at second on a grounder to third, at third, Smokey, who walked, on second and Goodspeed, who singled, at first with two outs.

But, Amestoy got Michelle Roza to foul out to the right fielder, who made a great sno-cone catch just in play, for the third out.

Douglas managed just one hit over the next seven innings (the second game of the triple-header plus), a out-out single by Rippee in the eighth inning. McQueen didn’t hit much better.

Douglas scattered just four more hits – a one-out single by Cathy Mauzey in the 16th, a one-out single by Goodspeed in the 18th, a out-out single by Gonzales in the 20th and a two-out single by Brooke Kizer in the 22nd – over the next 10 innings.

McQueen had its best chance to win the game in the 17th.

Annie Caires, the No. 9 hitter, reached on an error to start the rally. Angel Cappiello followed with a single up the middle to put runners at first and second with no outs.

Stoker put down a nice sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position with one out.

Baker then connected on what looked like was going to be the game-winning hit, but Goodspeed made a nifty stab at her shortstop position and threw a perfect strike to catcher Brooke Kizer, who shielded the plate and applied the tag. Caires never got through Kizer’s road block and got a foot to the plate on the slide.

McQueen still had a chance with Cappiello at third and two outs. Baker swung and missed at strike three, but Kizer dropped the ball and the race to first was on. Baker was well down the line before Kizer finally gathered and set herself for the throw. The throw hit Baker in the back and the McQueen bench erupted when she crossed first and Cappiello cross the plate.

However, it was properly ruled by the home plate umpire that Baker had interfered with the throw and was out, thus nullifying the run.

McQueen had another chance to win in the 23rd.

Baker led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a stolen base. However, on the steal, she ventured too far down the line after seeing the ball go wildly into right field. Or, at least she though she saw the ball get away.

Kizer’s throw to Goodspeed, who was covering the bag because Roza was in on a fake bunt attempt, was off-line, but Goodspeed made a nice snag and kept it from going out of play. Goodspeed also had the presence of mind to disguise the play – she faked like it Kizer’s throw had gotten away from her – and catch Baker off guard. Goodspeed’s catch and tag saved the game.

“(Goodspeed) made a great save. She’s a heady ballplayer,” Rippee said. “There are some great shortstops in this league, but Speedy ranks right up there with the best.”

McQueen, which stranded a runner at third again with two outs in the 18th when Shephard caught a liner off the bat of Amestoy, threatened to extend or even win the game in the bottom of the 25th.

Cappiello reached on an error and Stoker singled to right to start the rally. However, Shephard threw to Roza at third for a force and the first out one batter later and Roza touched the bag herself for the second out two batters later.

Shephard then got Cochran to ground out for the final out of the game.

Brooke Kizer finished 3-for-9. Mauzey had two hits and Rippee, Roza and Gonzales finished with one hit each. Cochran finished 4-for-10.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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