Along with Damonte, even perennial North contenders Spanish Springs and Douglas earned impressive first-round wins. Maybe a few saw those schools as darkhorses to come away with a regional title by weekend's end. However, after seeing High Desert League champion Reed get upset by a struggling Galena team during last Tuesday's initial day of the postseason, nobody outside of Blue and Gold faithful thought the Raiders would still be the one standing, and hoisting a regional title trophy, when the dust finally settled on the D-1 North Tournament.
And yet, that's exactly what happened. For the second time in five years, Reed dropped its regional playoff opener only to battle all the way back through the losers' bracket and capture the tourney championship. The Raiders' improbable run was capped Saturday with a pair of 9-5 wins over Douglas.
"It's amazing," third-year Reed coach Jon Wunder said. "I was walking out with some of the kids and (junior pitcher) Jackie Sertic said, 'to be honest. I wasn't sure we could do that.' But then she asked ' did you?' I always believed we could. I saw it happen in 2009, but you need a lot of things to fall into place and it just so happens they did. We battled through adversity all year, but that pulled the kids closer. I always believed."
Reed's players gave themselves plenty of reasons to believe. Losers' bracket wins over Reno, Spanish Springs, Manogue and Damonte all proceeded Saturday's victories over Douglas.
The first win over Douglas nearly never came to fruition. Reed trailed 2-0 after five innings when it finally found some offensive life Saturday.
Raiders leadoff hitter Cassy Walsh reached on a bunt single and Marriah Levesque followed with a single. From there, RHS standout senior Mary Dettling stole the show, bashing a three-run homer to center field that gave the RHS club a 3-2 lead.
"I was looking for a base hit," Dettling said. "I wasn't expecting to hit a home run. I was just happy we got that and that gave us the push that we needed."
Suddenly, Reed had the momentum and it did not let go.
Reed went on to tack on four more runs in the inning. Mackenzie Goins singled and raced all the way home when a Douglas outfielder misplayed the ball for a three-base error. Lindsay Yearman singled and scored on a double by Britni Greninger. Reed extended its edge to 9-2 when Greninger and Chelsea Cummings, who reached on an error, also came around to score.
Douglas got three runs back in the bottom of the seventh, but it proved too little too late as Reed captured the 9-5 win and forced the 'if-game' in the double-elimination tournament.
Dettling got Reed going again in Saturday's second contest. She gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with a solo dinger in the bottom of the first.
Still, Douglas showed it was not about to roll over and play dead. The Tigers answered with a pair of runs in the top of inning two. Leonna Mortinmer tripled and scored and Allison Meyer roped an RBI double to key the DHS rally.
The Tigers, who were the Sierra League's No. 2 seed, led 2-1 at that point, but that's as good as it got for the Minden school. Reed answered with a single run in its half of the frame -- thanks to an RBI single by Kiara Shirley -- and then the Raiders went on to post a single run in third, three in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth en route to building a 9-2 advantage.
Reed was leading 3-2 after three-plus innings when it took firm control in the fourth. Greninger crushed a solo homer. Sertic singled and then two Douglas errors helped Reed add two more runs.
Cummings rapped out an RBI single for Reed's run in the fifth and Goins drilled a two-run double in the RHS sixth.
Much like in Game 1, Douglas trailed 9-2 as it came up for its last at bat. Again, the Tigers managed to push across three runs in the seventh, only to fall short by a 9-5 score.
Sertic was one of a handful of stars for Reed. The Raiders' ace hurler had to be running on fumes Saturday. She pitched every inning, all 49 frames of Reed's tournament run, seven games in five days, including tossing a pair of games both Friday and Saturday.
"You have to remember, she's a kid that runs cross country," Wunder said. "She is in excellent condition and that really helps here when it's hot out there. She's just a kid that doesn't get rattled out there, no matter what the situation is. To pitch that many games is just amazing. I believe conditioning is a huge part of that and she did a fantastic job."
Sertic's numbers were far from her usual shut down line, but she continued to get outs all day Saturday. In Game 1, she allowed five runs but only four were earned in the seven innings. She scattered eight Douglas hits, striking our seven without issuing a walk. In Game 2, she again worked all seven innings, limiting the Tigers to five hits, whiffing two and walking two.
"Honestly, I didn't feel exhausted until I got home," Sertic said. "I was kind of running on adrenaline. That kept me and the whole team up ... Each team is different and we take a different pitching approach with each team. Douglas has a lot of good power hitters. So we tried to work more away from them and stay away from the sweet spot of the bat."
Reed will open state tournament play Thursday against Sunset Region and defending state champion Centennial at 6 p.m.. The three-day tourney will be hosted at UNLV.
"I'm really excited," Dettling said. "I've played softball in Vegas, but only with my travel team in the summer. I want to have this experience with my high school teammates. No matter what happens, we'll always have these memories."