RENO – Coronado coach Melissa Krueger has spent parts of this season picking up her team after difficult losses or unfortunate situations.
Krueger’s Cougars paid her back on Thursday.
After a lineup mistake threatened to squelch the Cougars’ momentum in the sixth inning, Alex Battest hit a two-run double to tie the game, and Alyssa Ayers followed with the go-ahead single.
Haley Harrison’s alert defensive play to end the game sealed the deal as Coronado advanced to the winners’ bracket final of the Class 4A state tournament with a 5-4 win over Damonte Ranch at UNR’s Hixson Field.
Coronado (24-12) will face Reed (28-5) at 3 p.m. today. The winner moves into the title game, and the loser plays Centennial (31-8) at 5 p.m.
“They believe in each other. They’ve got each other’s back, including my back,” Krueger said. “I was out of the game. I got down on myself, and they picked me up.”
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Coronado got a leadoff single by Lee Harrison, and Kiley Harrison followed with a hit to put two runners on.
Katie Dawson, who had someone run for her in the fourth inning, stepped up and stroked a single to load the bases, but Dawson had never officially been re-entered in the game.
She was ruled batting out of order and declared out, forcing both Harrisons to return to first and second.
The foul-up should have killed Coronado’s momentum, and nearly did. A grounder back to the circle resulted in the second out.
But No. 9 hitter Battest delivered her tying two-run double to deep left. Battest, who was 2-for-3, played a key role in the Cougars’ Sunrise Region title win.
“Alex is on fire right now,” Krueger said. “That kid has worked hard all year. She’s done everything we’ve asked her to.”
Ayers then singled home Battest to give Coronado the lead.
Damonte Ranch nearly tied the game in the top of the seventh. With courtesy runner Hannah Lamson at second and two outs, Makenzie Hospodka hit a slow roller up the first-base line. Coronado’s Taylor Woodford missed the tag on Hospodka, then threw late to Haley Harrison covering first.
Lamson hesitated, then tried to score, but Harrison snapped a throw home, and Katie Cochran applied the tag to end the game.
“Haley has come through for us. That was a great softball play. She kept her head in the game,” Krueger said.
■ Centennial 6, Damonte Ranch 5 – Mia Acuna went 4-for-4 with three doubles, and Taylor Huntly gutted out a seven-hitter as the Bulldogs recovered from an opening-game loss and ousted the Mustangs (26-12).
“Sometimes when their back is to the wall, they play tougher,” Centennial coach Mike Livreri said. “Taylor really showed a lot, especially in the last two innings. She was tired, but she was able to focus.”
Centennial led 4-0 until the Mustangs scored three runs in the fifth.
Acuna doubled home a run, and Maddie Henzlik’s ground out supplied another run in the seventh.
“(Acuna) told the team to get on her back tonight,” Livreri said. “She really competed.”
Damonte scored twice in the seventh and had the tying run on first when Huntly induced a ground out to end it.
Huntly allowed just two earned runs and struck out two. She got 17 ground-ball outs.
■ Reed 5, Centennial 4 – The Bulldogs’ seventh-inning rally came up a run short in the first game.
Alyssa Finger’s two-out double in the seventh scored Savannah Horvath, but the Bulldogs stranded Finger to end the game.
The Raiders pounded out 15 hits.
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