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3A STATE SOFTBALL: Moapa Valley must rekindle magic after opening-round loss

The route to the Class 3A state tournament was anything but ordinary for the Moapa Valley softball team.

The Pirates won two games apiece on consecutive days —rallying late in three of the four — to claim their first Southern Region title since 2001.

Some might call the run luck. Others skill.

But whatever it was, they will need to rekindle that play after losing 11-0 in six innings to Fernley in the opening round of the 3A state tournament at Faith Lutheran on Thursday afternoon.

“They understand they can do it,” Moapa Valley coach Matt Messer said. “You, obviously, can’t go down 11-0 and try to play a game. But (in the region tournament) we came down for a couple of runs in the last inning — both times against Pahrump.”

Moapa Valley (22-12) will face familar foe Pahrump Valley (25-10) in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Friday at Faith Lutheran. The Pirates and Trojans split their four meetings this season, with Moapa Valley winning the past two games, 6-5.

On Thursday, the Pirates’ offensive woes moved them into the losers’ bracket. Moapa Valley was held to just four hits — all in separate innings — in the shutout.

Kessa Evans and Emilie Barraza each hit a double, and Lainey Cornwall and Daesha Stastny both singled for Moapa Valley, which allowed Fernley to score in every inning except the second.

“We came in and we looked nervous,” Messer said. “(Fernley is) full of athletes, 1 through 9, and they just got after us. That’s one thing we talked about, was being aggressive from the start. And I don’t think we did. I don’t think we changed our approach at the plate at all.”

Fernley’s McKenna Montgomery was a big reason the Pirates never got on base. The senior walked two and struck out seven — many coming on her screwball.

“She could locate a little bit,” Messer said. “We talked about jumping on her early and not letting her locate like that. But we weren’t successful. Looked like her screwball was diving in. She was good. She was around the zone.”

The Vaqueros (24-11), meanwhile, came out fired up. Macie Kirk had a two-run single in the first inning, and Brooke Chapin hit a two-run single in the third to give Fernley a 4-0 lead.

After adding single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, the Vaqueros blew it open with a five-run sixth.

Hailee Edgar was 4-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs, and Chapin was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Kirk also drove in three runs for Fernley.

Churchill County 10, Pahrump Valley 3 — Jill Smith went 1-for-3 with a two-run double, but the Trojans struggled from the circle in their loss to the Greenwave in the other 3A semifinal.

Evandy Murphy and Jackie Stobbe each went 2-for-3, and Skyler Lauver had an RBI single for Pahrump Valley, which scored all of its runs in the top of the fourth inning.

Murphy led off the fourth with an infield single, and Amaya Mendoza reached on an error by Churchill County’s second baseman. Murphy and McKayla Bartley, who entered to pinch run for Mendoza, came around to score on Smith’s double to right-center field.

The Trojans allowed 13 hits and four walks and hit five Churchill County batters.

“We (have to) clean up our pitching,” Pahrump Valley coach Eli Armendariz said. “We gave them three extra innings. That’s nine extra batters we have to face. You take that away, and take away our silly little errors, we’re talking, maybe, a 5-3 game.”

Rylee Buckmaster scattered seven hits and struck out seven to earn the win for the Greenwave (29-4). The senior also doubled at the plate and scored three runs.

“They’re always here, but I don’t think (our team) is intimidated,” Armendariz said. “Their pitcher was just really good. … We’re very young — a lot of freshmen, a lot of sophomores and only three seniors. This is good experience for all of them.”

Faith Cornmesser was 4-for-4 with a double and two runs, Jordan Beyer went 1-for-2 with a double and two runs, and Caitlyn Welch was 2-for-5 for Churchill County.

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