In the end, High Desert League, and North Region championships, along with a state tournament trip validated Reed as it finished with a 29-9-3 record.
"At the beginning of the season, we knew our tradition was solid," Wunder said. "We knew we had good pitching coming back and a couple really good hitters. But we knew there were a few other good teams in the North, too. With only one North team going to state this year, we knew it would be tough to get back to state. I thought we could, but I wasn't sure if it would all come together. I'd say we surpassed expectations this season."
Reed opened the season with a trip to Sacramento for the annual Victory Preseason Tournament. It came home from the tourney with a lackluster 2-1-2 record, settling for the ties after event time-limit rules left a pair of games deadlocked with no resolution.
The Raiders returned to northern Nevada and ripped off seven straight wins, including a 19-inning donnybrook triumph over Douglas 5-4. Unfortunately for the Sparks school, its winning streak was snapped in the back end of the doubleheader at Douglas, falling 5-1.
Reed bounced back by winning three more games before hosting its yearly spring break tournament. In its tourney, Reed dinged Douglas again and also beat a strong Newark Memorial (Calif.) team before tying a tough Freedom (Oakley, Calif.) squad 1-1. The RHS gang won its pool in the tournament but was upset in the tourney semifinals by Reno.
Still, the Raiders were cruising along, racking up a handful of wins for every loss. But on April 22, Reed was upset 2-1 in a conference clash on its home field by North Valleys, a team it had already beaten twice earlier in the year by a combined score of 14-0.
The surprising defeat may have been the best thing to happen to Reed all season. Reed players seemed to play hungrier and with more purpose throughout the remainder of their spring campaign. That was evident when Reed swept cross-town rival and perennial power Spanish Springs in a league twin bill the final weekend of April, clinching the HDL crown.
“I think this team has been the perfect example of teamwork,” Reed's senior catcher Kiara Shirley said. “We wouldn’t have won regionals if we weren’t the teammates that we are. There’s not one person who did it, and there’s not one person who didn’t do it. We all did it together. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. To go out like this is basically a dream come true, especially with this team.”
By virtue of its league title, Reed earned a No. 1 seed into the regional tournament. However, there was one big hiccup left for the Raiders. Sierra League No. 4 seed Galena was unfazed by Reed's top billing. The Grizz stunned the Raiders at Reed, 7-0, in a first-round regional playoff.
Despite many considering Reed's days numbered at the point, the Raiders regrouped. They ripped off six straight wins in four days to win the North's large school championship, a run that included loser-out wins over Spanish Springs and Damonte Ranch as well as back-to-back championship triumphs over Douglas.
It's a rare feat to lose the opening game of a double-elimination tournament only to rally back and win the whole tournament, but it's one Reed's now accomplished twice in five years.
"It's amazing," Wunder said after the two regional wins over Douglas. "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."
Sertic, who was named the HDL's pitcher of the year, was a workhorse for Reed this season. After junior Megan Dettling went down with an injury late in the year, Sertic was called on to handle all the pitching chores. She threw the final 70 innings of Reed's season in an 11-day stretch. That stretch included all 49 innings of the Raiders' regional tournament action, including back-to-back games on both of the final two days of the tourney.
"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.
"As a pitcher, it's just important to have good teammates behind you. Your team is not as good if you don't have many good players behind you. That really helped me all year."
Reed made the long trek to Clark County for the state tournament last week, but its season ended short of a state title or even an appearance in the state final. The Raiders lost to eventual state champion Centennial 5-4 in their state opener. They bounced back to beat Green valley 2-0 but were eliminated by Palo Verde 4-1, ending their season.
Reed saw 10 players named to the HDL's postseason awards parade. In addition to Sertic's, big honor, Raiders center fielder Mary Dettling was named co-player of the year for the second straight year after leading her club in batting average, hits, homers and RBIs.
"Mary contributed this year both offensively and defensively, but more importantly, she really stepped up in a leadership role," Wunder said. "Even when she was in a slump, she was encouraging others. Then our team started to find its identity and as we did, she came out of her slump. She really helped us in the second half of the season as we peaked, but her leadership was just as important as her production on the field."