From top to bottom, the Bulldogs’ lineup represented an offensive juggernaut that is threatened several NIAA records. Going into the contest, Centennial was second all-time in home runs in a season (44), runs scored (366) and team doubles (89). The Bulldogs ranked third all-time in most team hits (441) and highest team batting average (.415).
The team records only begin to delve into the individual accomplishments for the Las Vegas school, including 16 home runs from sophomore Heather Bowen, good enough for third all-time during a season. In comparison, the Raiders have nine home runs thus far combined, along with 214 runs, 24 doubles, 286 hits and a batting average of .369. To say Reed had a tough task ahead of it would be an understatement.
That did not scare the Blue and Gold hurlers one bit. The Raiders’ combination of senior Shivaun Landeros and sophomore Jackie Sertic muzzled the bite of the Bulldogs’ bats, limiting CHS to seven hits and four runs as the Raiders took a 5-4 victory to remain in the winner’s bracket.
“I don’t really take all of that stuff into consideration because I feel like I’m good enough to go out there and compete with anybody,” Landeros said of the Bulldogs’ towering stats. “I was just going out there to throw. I don’t really let that kind of stuff scare me. I had an off day today but we still managed to only give up five hits in five innings. A win’s a win no matter what.”
The performance in the circle from the Reed duo impressed Centennial coach Mike Livreri.
“They had some great movement to their ball,” Livreri said. “They had some good spin on it and it kind of kept our girls off balance. We’re a good hitting team and we didn’t hit like we sometimes can, so it was frustrating. We didn’t play like we’re capable of playing. I think we played pretty solid defense, but our bats didn’t wake up.”
The Reed pair kept the Centennial bats on snooze throughout the game. Landeros pitched five innings in the victory, giving up three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts and three walks. From there, the Raiders went to Sertic, who closed the game out for RHS with one unearned run and three strikeouts in two innings.
The tactic was a part of the game plan all along.
“We kind of knew going in that we were prepared to pitch by committee,” Reed coach Jon Wunder said. “When these good hitters get up for a fourth time, you want to show them something different and I think there is enough of a difference between Shivaun and then Jackie and Megan. I think we gave up six or seven hits so when you’re facing a team like that, that’s quite an accomplishment.”
Reed’s blueprint worked out just as it had laid out.
The Raiders held a slight 5-3 edge going into the bottom of the sixth before Landeros gave up a leadoff double. With the double to the fence perhaps signifying that the Bulldog batters had figured out the RHS senior ace, Wunder made the switch to Sertic.
Coming into the game in the crucial spot, Sertic was more than prepared for the situation.
“We knew that if something bad happened that either I was going to come in or Megan was going to come in and we were all just going to kind of pick each other up,” Sertic said. “We wanted to stay on top of our game and not let anything bad happen. All I was thinking was ‘Let’s just win this game.’ I just wanted to go pitch-by-pitch and inning-by-inning. I wanted to listen to my coach because he knew how to pitch to these girls. He had been calling pitches against them for five innings.”
Heading into the contest, the carousel of pitchers in the circle for Reed was not the only strategy the Raiders had ready for Centennial.
“We were trying to mix it up,” Wunder said. “One of the things we heard is they chase a lot of rise balls. They don’t typically see a lot of rise balls down there so we thought we’d try to mix those in. They weren’t necessarily good rise balls, but you have to keep them honest. If they can just pin their ears back and look for something below the waist, they’re going to do that.”
Staying away from the Bulldogs’ sweet spot, Reed never let CHS get comfortable in the box and pitched itself to the win. While the Raiders revealed part of their approach that led to the win, they did not divulge all, keeping some info under wraps in case they see the Bulldogs again. When asked just what her mentality was in pitching to Centennial batters in order to get them out, Sertic had a simple answer.
“That’s a secret.”