So what do you do when the Cougars are even better this year? You give them the award again.
While Spanish Springs’ record did not improve (32-5 in 2008 vs. 35-1 in 2007), the first defeat of ‘08 was in the Victory Pre-Season Tournament championship game and the other four losses came to nationally ranked teams prior to the league season starting.
Once the Cougars came back to Nevada, they truly showed there was no stopping them. Spanish Springs’ first six games in the Silver State ended with a shutout, starting a streak of 27 straight wins spanning the remainder of the season. The local school has not lost to a Nevada school the past two seasons – a run of 55 games.
The Cougars’ pitching staff tossed 24 shutouts in the 32 victories this year.
It was impressive when the Purple and Teal rolled to seven postseason triumphs by a 52-3 margin last spring. Somehow Spanish Springs improved on that mark, defeating seven postseason opponents by a combined 78-5 score, including 41-2 in three state tournament games.
But what else is there to say about the Cougars? They have so much talent fans wondered if an all-star team comprised of the rest of the area’s top players could beat them. Spanish Springs would probably still win, considering it possesses what Reed coach Ray Charles considers the ‘X’ factor, pitcher Mallary Darby.
Darby was a High Desert League Player of the Year her first two seasons and the league’s Pitcher of the Year the past three seasons. She has not lost to a Nevada school since the end of her sophomore campaign and finished her four-year career at SSHS with a sub-0.40 ERA.
Unlike past teams relying on nearly untouchable pitchers, Spanish Springs isn’t winning 1-0 games. The team can simply hit any ace in the state. The local squad averaged over eight runs a game on the year and averaged double digits in runs against in-state competition. The seventh-year school batted .436 as a team, led by sophomore Ashley Decker and senior HDL Player of the Year Jaci Carlsen. Both hit over .500 on the season.
Head coach Jeff Davidson, who also coaches summer travel teams, said Spanish Springs would be a formidable travel squad.
“They’d be able to compete with anybody,” he said. “I told them this is the greatest team I have ever coached. I’ve coached a couple of professional athletes in baseball during their high school days. But this team by far is very unselfish, and that’s what made us successful.”
The Cougars also don’t take themselves too seriously. They don’t try to run up the score. They just go out and have fun and are even known to share their fun with their friends by text messaging them during practices and games.
Spanish Springs is still serious about accomplishing its goals. In between all the pranks and distractions at practice, the Cougs are all business when they step on the field on defense or when they’re in the batter’s box.
“At practice it was a little hard to focus at times with the water balloon fights. We just did a lot of cute, little fun things,” senior Becca Davidson said. “It was always hard to stay focused, but we came together when it counted. We knew when it was time to buckle down, and we knew when it was time to goof a little bit.”
And there is no denying they were good when they buckled down.
Coach Davidson said the Cougars either set or matched 30 state individual or team records.
When the backup catcher who was mainly used as a pinch hitter has the talent to play collegiately, that just shows how loaded the Cougars were.
Of the eight seniors, seven will be playing next year: Carlsen (Cal-State Northridge), Darby (Nevada), Amanda Collier (Pacific), Jen Martensen (Idaho State), Becca Davidson (Southwestern Oregon), Dani Ming and Stephanie Meibert (Western Nevada College).
The eighth senior, No. 2 pitcher Annalee Rubio, has received offers to play in college, but so far has decided to focus on her education.
The scary part is there still is plenty of talent left for Spanish Springs to make a run for a state crown three-peat. Five underclassmen received all-league honors this season, and an all-leaguer from 2006 and 2007 could return after missing this season due to injury.
The eight graduating seniors might be going in different directions, but the close-knit group will always be part of the Cougar family and wish the best for the future.
“It’s coming to an end for our high school team, and we’re all like sisters, so it’s sad,” Becca Davidson said. “We plan to come to some games (next year) against our rivals and cheer on our girls. We’re all going to stay in touch, but leaving each other will be a challenge.
“I sure hope the team can continue to do great things because we worked hard to make a name for our school and the program. I really hope it continues on without us there.”