Last spring Reed dropped its first regional playoff game and had to win four losers' bracket games to earn a berth in the state tournament. Last weekend at the Northern 4A tourney, Reed dropped its second regional playoff and had to win five straight loser-out games to capture the North's lone state tournament invitation.
After dropping its state tournament opener Friday, Reed sits in a situation where it now has to win three straight games to capture its first state softball crown since 1998. The Raiders dropped a 2-1 contest to Sunset Region champion Shadow Ridge in a first-round state tournament afternoon affair, but did rebound in eight innings to eliminate Foothill, 2-1, in a loser-out game Friday night.
Reed (35-6) will meet Shadow Ridge again at 10 a.m. today at Majestic Park in another loser-out game. The winner will move into the championship series, which starts at noon, and would have to beat undefeated Centennial twice to take home the championship banner.
"We know we are capable of doing it, but we still have to come out and perform," 11th-year Reed softball coach Ray Charles said. "We're excited. We just can't do anything easy."
Reed stayed alive in the state tournament thanks to its dramatic eight-inning one-run victory over Sunrise champion Foothill. After failing to reach base in her first six trips to the plate Friday, Reed leadoff hitter Tia Wunder got the Raiders' eighth inning started with a walk. Erica McKenzie followed and popped out on a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Reed's No. 3 hitter Brooke Silva lined a drive to left field that went for a double and scored Wunder for the winning run.
Silva had been 0-for-6 on the day previous to her walk-off hit.
"It felt great," she said. "I didn't want our season to end. We want to keep going. It was just an inside pitch and I hit it hard down the left-field line. We can do this (win the tournament). Our team for sure will bounce back."
Foothill took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the top of the fourth. Falcons senior Rosie Ritchie walked and teammate Shelbie Medrano reached on an error. Ritchie raced home when a pick-off throw to first base, trying to surprise Medrano, went sailing into right field.
"Down 1-0, it didn't look good because we were not hitting well," Charles said. "But these kids are tough to keep fighting."
Reed pulled into a 1-1 deadlock when Kristy Pasley was issued a leadoff walk in the fifth. Tess Oliphant got down a sacrifice bunt to move pinch-runner Amanda Sharkey up to second. After Alex Corona struck out and Makaela Moore was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, RHS freshman Cori Gammon singled to right, plating Sharkey.
"It was time for her to get her opportunity," Charles said. "She came through just when she needed to. She hasn't gotten a lot of playing time in the playoffs. For her to hang in there was huge. I'm happy for her."
Reed's sophomore right-hander Destinee Levesque turned in a pitching gem. She allowed just the one unearned run in an eight-inning, one-hit performance. Levesque, who retired the first 10 Falcons to step in the batter's box, finished with eight strikeouts against just one walk. She also retired 14 of the last 15 Falcons she faced.
Medrano singled in the seventh off Levesque, but she was quickly erased when Silva turned a nifty doubleplay where she caught a hard bouncing ball back up the middle while standing on second before firing to first.
Medrano was the tough-luck loser for Foothill. She too worked all eight innings, limiting Reed to three hits. After striking out 16 Centennial hitters in Foothill's first-round state loss, she struck out 16 more Raiders. She struck out the first seven Raiders Friday and her first 11 outs all came via the whiff.
•Reed fell into the losers' bracket after suffering its 2-1 loss to Shadow Ridge, a team it beat twice in last year's state tournament.
The Raiders did not have an answer for Mustangs' ace right-hander Mandy Harmon. The senior gave up just one hit. She struck out five and walked one.
Reed got its only run when Chelsea Cohen blasted a Harmon offering over the left-field fence for a solo homer with two outs in the seventh.
"Pitchers kind of kept us off balance today," Charles said. "And then we got in our own heads a little bit. When you do that, you swing at some bad pitches. We struggled."
Shadow Ridge grabbed a 1-0 lead with a run in the second inning. Ashley Huddleston reached on a fielder's choice and scored after a groundout and single by Mary Jordan.
The Mustangs tacked on what proved to be the winning run in the fourth. Shadow Ridge posted the unearned run after Huddleston got on thanks to a Raiders error. She circled the sacks when a pair of infield singles sandwiched a hit batter.
Reed's senior ace, Chelsea Cohen, was saddled with the loss. She scattered four Mustangs hits, only one of which was a line drive. Cohen struck out six but did not walk anyone.
Offense has not been much of a problem for the Reed High softball team this spring. However, while that may be the rule, Friday was definitely an exception.
In two games, 15 innings worth of action at the Nevada 4A State Championships Friday, Reed mustered just four hits. The Raiders top two hitters in the order, seniors Tia Wunder and Erica McKenzie failed to get a hit in 13 at-bats. Reed's No. 3-4-5 hitters, Brooke Silva, Chelsea Cohen, Kristy Pasley, had three of the Raiders' four hits, but needed 17 plate appearances to do so. Additionally, Reed got just one hit in 20 trips to the plate.
Veteran Raiders skipper made some jokes about trying to improve his team's offensive efforts Saturday, but you can bet he is a bit alarmed.
"We couldn't get anything going," he said. "In both games we pitched well and played good enough defense to win, but we couldn't hit. I think I'll get UPS going to bring our real bats tomorrow."
All joking aside, Reed will need to have a better offensive approach in its loser-out game Saturday morning. The Raiders will likely face Shadow Ridge ace Mandy Harmon for the second time in less than 24 hours.
Reed managed just two baserunners against Harmon Friday. She gave up a two-out second-inning walk to Tess Oliphant and a two-out solo homer to Reed cleanup hitter Chelsea Cohen. After Oliphant's walk, Harmon retired 16 straight Reed hitters.
"We just couldn't get anything to fall. We didn't swing it. I thought we were flat," said Charles, who did not want to blame his team's woes on a long bus ride to southern Nevada Thursday.
However, Cohen did have a theory on why she and her teammates struggled to make good contact in Friday's state playoff tilts.
"I think part of it was we had to play so late," Cohen said, alluding to Friday's 4 p.m. opening start time after a day of no school.
•RAIDER FAITHFUL - Fans of the Blue and Gold showed up in full force Friday. Nearly 100 Reed fans made the trek to Clark County to cheer on the Raiders softball squad. Raiders support easily equaled the number of fans from any of the three local teams competing.
"We had nice support from northern Nevada," Charles said. "Whether it was our fans of even some college kids from the North that came out to watch, all of people showed up."
Reed's all-league basketball and football player, senior Lennox Pierce, was among those who turned out in support of the Lady Raiders. Lewis made the seven-plus hour driving pilgrimage to the Las Vegas with friends Thursday.
"I had to come support our girls. We are the North champs. This is pretty exciting. We had to come support them. It's been fun," he said.
•QUICK CONTEST - Reed has played in some fast games this spring, but many of them have come after the Raiders offense has exploded to push the state's 10-run mercy rule into effect. That was not the case in Reed's state opener against Shadow Ridge.
The Raiders' one-run, seven-inning loss lasted only an hour and five minutes. Harmon and Reed ace Cohen baffled opposing hitters into quick outs and quick innings.
Reed's down time between its 4 and 6 p.m. games was nearly as long as its initial outing Friday.