Bear River edged by Cordova in second round |

Bear River edged by Cordova in second round

Bear River freshman hurler Nerissa Long strides toward the plate as Rachel Last readies herself on defense versus Cordova in second round action of the Sac-Joaquin D-III softball playoffs Saturday at the Sacramento Softball Complex. The Lady Bruins lost 1-0.
Photo for The Union by Brian Shepard |

The Lady Bruins battled hard in another low-scoring affair Saturday afternoon and were kept within striking distance throughout the game thanks to a tremendous performance in the circle by freshman phenom Nerissa Long.

Yet, it was Cordova that took advantage of some Bear River blunders and managed to score the game’s only run on a passed ball for a 1-0 victory in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III softball playoffs at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

“I’m proud we battled a No. 1 seed from a league (Capital Athletic League) a lot bigger than ours,” said Bruins head coach Jason Borher. “(Cordova’s) pitcher (Megan Stacy) threw a perfect game Friday, won 11-0, and to hold them to one was a great job by Nerissa (Long).”

Bear River threatened to score in the top half of the third inning when freshman Andrea Hardin led off with a hot shot single, taking an outside pitch to right field. Senior Alix Alfke laid down a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to advance Hardin to second base. Hardin found her way over to third when a throw went into center field, but that’s where she remained until the third out was made. Hardin finished 1-for-2 at the dish. Bear River’s other two hits came in different innings. In the top of the fourth a speedy bunt single by Long was later marred by an inning-ending double play and in the top of the sixth Rachel Last ripped one up the middle for a single with two outs but never made it into scoring position as Myah Shine lined out to shortstop. Both Long and Last were 1-for-3 at the plate.

“We put a lot more balls in play, made a lot of contact,” Borher said. “There’s no shame for our girls. Six of our nine starters are underclassmen. Everything here is a gift. It’s great experience and does wonders for their future.”

The Lady Lancers lone run came in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cordova senior Angehleyna Wheat smashed a single up the middle to lead off the inning. During a sac-bunt attempt an out was called after the batter touched the ball, which sent Wheat back to first base, but she didn’t stay there long as she safely stole second a couple pitches later. From there Wheat remained aggressive and stayed on her toes to take advantage of passed balls to move to third and eventually home. Long completed the game surrendering three hits and fanning 10 batters.

“It was a tight game,” Borher said. “One to nothing, we played tight as we can go. We’re still young, mistakes are going to happen. Mikayla (Laymance) is a tough kid and hung in there. The team is working hard and staying motivated.”

The only other time Cordova was able to threaten offensively was in the bottom of the second inning after a couple of fielding errors and a wild pitch led to runners at second and third with no outs. However, the flames were quickly extinguished with two strike outs by Long and a tough play at the plate by Laymance to keep the Lady Lancers off the scoreboard. Cordova had tried to squeeze Alexandra Preddy home on a bunt, but Long fielded it cleanly and threw to Laymance who stood firm at the plate and took a collision head on. Preddy was called out and ejected for not sliding. The Lancers stranded runners on second and third as Long fanned a batter to end the inning.

Saturday’s game also offered a new challenge for the young Lady Bruins squad as their patience was tested with a four hour long pregame wait around. Bear River’s game was scheduled for 3 p.m. and the team arrived at 1 p.m. to warm up, but an earlier Division I game between West and Sheldon went 12 innings and lasted nearly four hours. It was then Bencia versus Christian Brothers which took the field as Bear River sat on deck. By the time the first pitch was thrown at 5:06 p.m. Bear River moved to another field which had become available. It was also Prom Night for Bear River, but the girls stuck around and played tough for their team.

“Monday’s practice is going to be a lot of hitting and covering bunts,” added Borher, who will prepare his team for Pioneer, the No. 1 seed out of the Tri-County League. “We’ll play Pioneer Tuesday. They hit well, but everyone has more experience than us. If we score one or two early Nerissa (Long) can get settled in. She’ll give us a chance and we’ll see what we can do.”

Bear River (13-10) now has its back up against the wall and must win if it hopes to stay alive to defend its D-III Sac-Joaquin Section title. Pioneer (20-6, 9-1 TCL) lost 6-2 to Antelope Saturday afternoon and boasts a team batting average of .349. The Lady Patriots are led by senior Tori Bellin and sophomore Rylie Carlier at the plate who bat .500 with four homers between them. On the mound sophomore Angelica Dark anchors the squad with an impressive 1.22 ERA. The winner of this 4 p.m. match up will advance to a second do-or-die game at 6 p.m. Tuesday night against the loser of Antelope versus Cordova.

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