Bear River softball advances in playoffs against Woodland
It wasn’t pretty, but the Bear River softball team got it done.
The Lady Bruins overcame being no-hit Friday against Woodland to win 2-1 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs and continue their title defense.
“The girls battle,” Bear River head coach Jason Bohrer said. “You can say scrappy or whatever cliché term you want, but they work hard, and they make it count.”
Mired in a pitchers’ duel at the Sacramento Softball Complex, both the Lady Bruins and the Lady Wolves struggled to get anything going at the plate.
Bear River’s fantastic freshman, Nerissa Long, was her usual dominant self in the circle, throwing all seven innings, striking out 14 and walking only three. Long did allow four hits by Woodland, but they were scattered over four different innings. Long was especially strong with runners on base as she stranded seven Lady Wolves throughout the game.
“A lot of pitches were working well for me,” Long said with a big smile on her face. “Today was the best my rise ball has worked.”
Through the first three innings, it looked as if neither team would score, but Woodland broke through in the fourth. The Lady Wolves’ Rachel Tadlock drew a leadoff walk, then advanced to second on an error and stole third. Tadlock eventually scored on a passed ball.
Long limited the damage and allowed just the one run in the inning while stranding two.
Long then helped herself out in the bottom of the fourth by drawing a leadoff walk. Dayna Byers then moved Long to second with a sac bunt. Long then took third on a passed ball. With Long on third and one out, Bear River’s Mikayla Laymance battled Woodland’s pitcher Kelsey Goodner, who up to that inning had allowed just one base runner. Laymance fouled off pitch after pitch, staying alive and finally manipulating the count to full. Laymance eventually won the battle by drawing a walk on a wild ball four that opened the door for Long to take home as the poorly thrown pitch rattled around the backstop.
With the game knotted, the Lady Bruins did not take long to seize the advantage. In the bottom of the fifth, Alix Alfke drew a one-out walk. No. 9 batter Alex Ecke followed with a very nice sac bunt that advanced Alfke to second. Ecke was out at first, but Woodland’s first baseman got greedy and tried to backdoor Alfke at second. The ball missed its target and skipped into left field. Alfke seized the opportunity and started running, never hesitating around third base. She beat the throw home to give Bear River the lead.
“When we get someone on, we try to move them around,” Bohrer said. “They did what they had to do. It was the bottom of the lineup that scored that run in the fifth.”
Now with the lead and just two innings to go, Long went into shutdown mode. She struck out four of the final six batters she faced, including a glove-popping heater to strike out Woodland’s final batter.
“When my team is up and we’re riled up and ready to go, I’m up, and I’m excited, and sometimes I throw harder,” Long said.
In the win, Rachel Last played well at second base and reached base twice, drawing two walks. Andrea Hardin also drew a walk for Bear River. Laymance also had a stellar game behind the plate, handling the hard-throwing Long.
With the win, the Lady Bruins remain in the hunt for their second straight D-III section championship, but for the majority of this year’s squad, it would be a first, as Bear River boasts a completely new starting lineup from last season.
“This is just icing,” Bohrer said. “Winning the PVL, going 9-1 and the girls just having such a good season, this is just experience. This is all extra.”
Bear River has a short turn-around as it will take the diamond today at 3 p.m. against the winner of the Cordova-River Valley first-round matchup.
Bohrer said he knows the Lady Bruins’ offense has to improve if its run is to continue.
“We gotta start hitting,” he said. “When we play (today), lightning isn’t going to strike twice. Whoever we play (today), I don’t think this will happen again.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.