Crusaders surge past Cowboys

Kelly Zufall likely has had hundreds of hits in her softball playing days.

She’s had hits that looked much prettier than her sixth-inning single Thursday, but maybe never one that meant more.

The Faith Lutheran senior center fielder fought off an inside 2-and-0 pitch with the bases loaded and out one out and looped it into short right field to break a 2-all tie and lift the Crusaders to a 9-2 win over Chaparral in an elimination game of the Division I-A state softball tournament at UNLV’s Eller Media Stadium.

Faith Lutheran (22-14) stayed alive after losing earlier in the day and will meet either Churchill County (25-11) or Fernley (30-8) at 11:15 a.m. today.

“That was big to be able to send the runners around,” Faith Lutheran coach John Chilman said. “That’s what seniors do. They’re just always expecting to win. For them, it’s not just end of season, it’s the end of the career.”

Faith Lutheran had just four hits in the first five innings and trailed 2-1 entering the sixth, but a bases-loaded single to left by Vanessa Valdez scored Rachel Kerr with the tying run and set the table for Zufall.

“I kind of like high pitches,” Zufall said. “She threw me two balls, and the next pitch was up and in, and I said, ‘I might as well swing.’ ”

The result was a two-run single, chasing home Claire Peck and Bri Yee.

Mandy Young added an RBI groundout, and Lauryn Lipe ripped a run-scoring double and later came home on an error as the Crusaders scored six runs in the inning.

“They believe in themselves,” Chilman said.

Valdez and Zufall added RBI hits in the seventh to cap the scoring.

It was more than enough for senior Stacie Graham, who bounced back from a rough outing in a 10-3 loss to Churchill County in the day’s second game to toss an eight-hitter with five strikeouts.

“It’s easy to play behind her,” Zufall said. “When Stacie puts it there, she puts it in there, and she trusts us on defense. We know that we can make the play.”

Nicole Lesniak was 3-for-3 for Chaparral (17-12).

■ Churchill County 10, Faith Lutheran 3 — Kasey Archer and Megan McCormick each had an RBI triple as the Greenwave scored four times with two outs in the fourth inning and pulled away from the Crusaders in a first-round game.

Ali Tedford went 2-for-3 and scored three runs for Churchill County.

Alex Wright was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs for Faith Lutheran.

■ Fernley 10, Chaparral 0 — Taylor Hires-Caulk’s two-run double highlighted a four-run first as the Vaqueros took control early in a first-round game.

Bailey Henderson went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs for Fernley.

DIVISION III

■ Needles 11, White Pine 7 — Abby Chandler smacked two three-run homers and provided sparkling defense with several sharp putouts at shortstop as the Mustangs topped the Bobcats in a first-round game of the Division III tournament at The Meadows.

■ Lincoln County 14, Yerington 8 — Jessica Shoup went 5-for-5 with a double and one RBI as the Lynx outslugged the Lions. Lincoln County will face Needles in the winners’ bracket final at 2 p.m. today at The Meadows.

DIVISION IV

■ Eureka 7, Indian Springs 6 — Indian Springs coach Lynn Dale learned that it’s much easier to dig a hole than it is to climb back out.

The Thunderbirds fell behind early and came up just short with a late rally in losing to Eureka in the first round of the Division IV tournament at Rancho.

The loss dropped the winners of the past two Class 1A state titles into the losers’ bracket, where they will play Smith Valley at 2 p.m. today. Eureka will play Pahranagat Valley at noon.

“We feel like we beat ourselves,” said Dale, whose team committed six errors. “We gave up too much too early.”

Though the Thunderbirds used aggressive base running to score a run in the first, the Vandals retaliated with four runs on four hits in the second and three more runs in the third with the help of a two-run triple by C.C. Brown.

■ Pahranagat Valley 12, Smith Valley 2 — Kennedy Huntsman went 2-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs to help the Panthers roll past the Bulldogs in five innings.

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