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Cougars crush Grizz in regular season finale
by Damian Tromerhauser
May 04, 2012 | 1289 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo John Byrne - Spanish Springs Karlie Merritt (2) and Ally Batastini share a celebratory moment during the Cougars’ win at Galena.
Tribune photo John Byrne - Spanish Springs Karlie Merritt (2) and Ally Batastini share a celebratory moment during the Cougars’ win at Galena.
A week ago the Spanish Springs softball team was in the midst of a three-game losing streak, unfamiliar territory for the perennial power. Faced with a gut check, the SSHS nine avoided tumbling down a dangerous slope and instead rattled off four straight victories in impressive fashion.

Looking to keep the streak alive and finish the regular season on a high note, the Cougars traveled to Galena on Friday afternoon and left south Reno with a dominating 15-2 victory for their fifth in a row. It’s a streak that has seen, the Cougars outscore their opponents 50-9. The win, combined with some help from cross-town rival Reed, which defeated Damonte Ranch, gave the Cougars the No. 3 seed heading into regionals next week.

“Every win is a big win but we’ve played excellent our last five games,” Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said. “We’re hitting the ball well, we’re playing great defense, and we’re leaving our feet and making plays. We got a great effort from our freshman Ally Batastini on the mound against a very good hitting team. I’m just real proud of the way the girls have battled and worked hard this week. Now we have to continue that and work hard next week since regionals start.”

Holding a slight edge of 5-2 over the Grizzlies, Spanish Springs erupted in the top of the fifth inning to put the mercy rule into play.

A single from sophomore Myrissa Prince followed by a double from Batastini put two Cougars in scoring position. A squeeze from junior Kelsie Stroshine plated Prince while Stroshine made it to first safely. After a steal by Stroshine, sophomore Kayla Arterburn singled in the two baserunners for an 8-2 lead. The damage was just getting started for the visitors.

Singles from sophomore Bayley Broadwater and senior Bella Rovens loaded the bases. Junior Brette Lawrence singled to plate Arterburn, followed by a fielder’s choice off the bat of junior Sidney Sinclair that brought Broadwater home for a 10-2 advantage. Prince then ripped a double that scored a pair of runs. An error on a groundball from Batastini allowed Sinclair to score and put the mercy rule into action. To top the explosion off of runs, Stroshine sent a ball deep over the left-field fence for a three-run shot that left the scoreboard reading the final tally of 15-2.

“Early on we were keeping our hands above the ball and hitting hard line drives and ground balls, but for a couple innings we got away from that and started getting under the ball,” Davidson said. “I told them they needed to refocus and continue to work on what we’ve been doing in practice and they responded and hit the ball hard.”

Before the stream of runs, Spanish Springs jumped out on the Grizzlies early, posting three runs with its first trip to the dish.

Rovens started things off for the Cougs with a grounder that ricocheted off the Galena shortstop. A steal and sacrifice bunt put Rovens on third before junior Brette Lawrence singled her home. Prince then stepped to the plate and hit a pop up high into the air where the Galena outfield struggled with the sun and wind, allowing the ball to drop and Lawrence to score. With Prince in scoring position, Stroshine singled through the infield to plate the third SSHS run of the first inning.

The 3-0 Spanish Springs edge stayed intact until the bottom of the third when the Grizz struck for their first run of the game. Senior Alyssa Zunino doubled to start, followed by a single from junior Sofia Baig that left runners on the corners. An SSHS  error then allowed Zunino to score to bring the score to 3-1.

The Cougars got the run back, plus one, in the top of the fourth.

A pair of singles to lead off the frame from Arterburn and Broadwater got things going. A sac bunt moved the runners over for Lawrence, who plated both with a two-RBI single into center field for a 5-1 advantage.

Galena senior Alex Casazza hit a sole home run in the bottom half of the fourth to bring the score to 5-2.

Batastini went the distance in the circle for the Cougars, tossing five innings with six strikeouts and six hits allowed with one earned run.

Spanish Springs had a number of players with impressive days at the plate as the roster resembled a hit parade. Four Cougars went 3-for-4 at bat, with Stroshine collecting five RBI, Lawrence totaling four RBI and two runs, Prince scoring three runs and two RBI and Arterburn scoring twice and hitting home one. Rovens was a perfect 3-for-3 with a run scored. Batastini was 2-for-3 with two runs.

While the win and Damonte loss gave Spanish Springs the third spot for the playoffs, Davidson said he is not worried about his team’s seeding.

“It’s a new season,” Davidson said. “We break the season down into three groups: one is preseason, the second part of it is league and the third part is the postseason. Every team that has gotten into the regional tournament deserves to be there and you have to play every game like it’s the last game you’re ever going to play. That’s the approach we’re going to take.”

Although next week may be the start of a new season for Spanish Springs (23-8, 15-5 Northern 4A), the way the Cougars are playing as of now could carry over.

“That’s what you want to see as a coach,” Davidson said. “You talk about all three aspects of the game: pitching, defense and hitting. When you can execute and do well in those three areas, you have a great opportunity to win. We’ve been talking about catching the momentum and trying to ride it through and right now they’re doing real well, but we need to continue to work hard and stay grounded and focused on what’s ahead of us next week.
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