The Lady Bruins and freshman star pitcher Nerissa Long begin their postseason quest for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III softball championship when they battle Woodland at 6 p.m. today at the Sacramento Softball Complex. Bear River (12-9, 9-1 PVL) will be the home team as it wrapped up its regular season on a two-game win streak and claimed the Pioneer Valley League title.
Long has proven herself a tough competitor throughout the season and has demonstrated consistency and results, racking up 124 innings in the circle and finishing all 19 games she has started to go along with a daunting 1.24 ERA. She finished 12-7 with opponents batting just .120 against her. Out of 561 batters faced, Long has struck out 234 (41.7 percent).
The freshman is no slouch when it comes to wielding a bat either. Long enters today’s game with a .367 batting average, the second highest on the team behind junior slugger Rachel Last (.540).
There’s a lot riding on today’s game with little to no room for error. Should the Lady Bruins earn a victory, they will advance into the double-elimination round of the tournament Saturday, but the loser is done for the season. First- year Bear River head coach Jason Borher will look to keep the program’s winning ways alive as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Duane Zauner, who won three Section titles in his final four years before retiring in 2012.
Woodland (14-8, 8-2 TCL) finished its season with a tough loss and took second place in the Tri-County League, one game back of Pioneer, which won the league title in the final game with an 18-6 victory. The Lady Wolves were 2-0 in games against the PVL this season, as they defeated both Placer and Lincoln, 6-3 and 7-6 respectively. Bear River’s only PVL loss came against Placer when it fell 4-1. The Lady Bruins were also 0-1 agianst the TCL, a 7-1 loss at River Valley, which Woodland beat twice.
The Lady Wolves are known to have some good sticks, as the team averages .378 at the plate led by junior Kelsey Goodner (.532) who has three long balls and 13 doubles on the year. The Lady Bruins’ team batting average is .271. Woodland also has three more players batting above .400. Much like Bear River’s Long, Woodland’s Goodner is both an offensive and defensive threat as she anchors the squad on the mound with a 2.92 ERA while opponents have dug their cleats in to bat .197.
Statistically the Long-Goodner matchup will be of many interesting battles to follow in today’s game, which features so much talent on each roster. Bear River has just two seniors this year, outfielders Alix Alfke and Allison Crow. Woodland brings three.