Saturday was "Scrimmage Saturday" across the Silver State as many of Nevada's prep baseball and softball programs use the first weekend in March to get in some game situations before opening their spring seasons in less than a week. That was certainly the case for Sparks schools.
The 4A Reed and Spanish Springs softball programs took part in a four-team jamboree of scrimmage action along with Damonte Ranch and Galena at Shadow Mountain Park.
"It gave us the opportunity to look at a lot of kids," first-year Reed softball coach Jon Wunder said. "We lost a lot from last year. We need to see who will step up, at the plate and in the field.
"We started a little rough against Damonte, giving up four runs in the first inning without a hit, but we stepped up when we had to. We've got good chemistry. The older kids do a good a job of helping the younger ones fit in."
Reed will get in another scrimmage, Tuesday against Manogue, before opening its 2011 schedule in a three-day preseason tournament in Sacramento, starting Thursday.
The jamboree was the first game action for defending state champion Spanish Springs as well. Sixth-year coach Jeff Davidson liked what he saw from his Cougars' club.
"I talked to the kids and told them this was a total positive," the Cougars' coach said. "In the first and third games we hit the ball hard and in the second one we popped up too much. So we made the adjustments. I used it to point out to the players, focus on the things we work on everyday in practice."
Davidson said the preseason scrimmages are a good opportunity for the players to showcase their skills and also good for coaches to evaluate talent.
"I used it to take a look at a lot of players. I put them in different positions and different situations to see how they'd react … I told everybody on the team since the first day of practice into these scrimmages and in the tournament next week, 'this is your chance to win a starting spot.'"
Spanish Springs will play in the same Sacramento preseason tournament as Reed. The Cougars also open with a tourney tilt Thursday night.
Sparks softball practiced Saturday but did not scrimmage. The 3A Railroaders do not play their season opener until March 19.
On the baseball side, Spanish Springs, Reed and Sparks all suited up for weekend scrimmages. Spanish Springs hosted Carson and Galena in a round-robin event. Reed faced Truckee while Sparks met Fernley.
"The biggest thing for us is the scrimmage is good to get in live hitting and live pitching," SSHS coach Ben Hofmann said. "We have been inside so much and hit in the cages, it's a lot different hitting live. And it's good to work on situational stuff, see where guys are and if they've been paying attention."
The Northern 4A baseball region is not split into two leagues under this year's new realignment. Instead of playing five other teams three times in league play, as in year's past, schools will play 11 other regional teams twice each.
That means league play kicks off March 15.
"We used to have a tournament or two and some non-league games to get ready for league," Hofmann said. "Now we've got to be in midseason form right off the bat. That makes these scrimmages even more important."
Spanish Springs makes its regular season debut Thursday against Elko.
For Ray Charles, it was a different day than in year's past. Charles had guided Reed softball from 1999 to 2010, but he stepped down last summer to take the RHS baseball job.
"I was excited today just like I was for softball," Charles said. "It was fun to start to evaluate my team. The only thing that was a little different was throwing a baseball lineup together and seeing how it would work. Overall, I was pleased with what I saw today."
So what was Charles looking for in his first-day on the job watching the Raiders in some game situations?
"I just wanted pitchers to throw strikes and batters to work counts," he said. "Typically the pitchers are ahead of hitters. I just want to see some live arms. The game is a lot different than practice.
"It was a good day. The sun was out in Nevada in the spring. That's positive."
Reed will go to Spanish Springs for a final preseason scrimmage Tuesday afternoon and then it plays its season opener Thursday at home against McQueen.
•Sparks baseball wrapped up its scrimmage session at Fernley Saturday afternoon but further details were unavailable by press time. The Railroaders open their new season Thursday against North Valleys.