Bruins, Miners to meet
The most obvious goal at a softball tournament is to win games, but for Nevada Union and Bear River, the 3rd Annual Bear River Pool Challenge allows both programs a chance to do more than simply win.
The Challenge lasts just one day and consists of three area teams: the Miners, the Bruins and the Placer Hillmen. Bear River and Nevada Union will play each other twice while Placer will play just two games – one against the Miners and one against the Bruins.
For the Bruins, the tournament will be an important tool to help coach Duane Zauner evaluate and choose his final lineup for two important league games next week against Mira Loma and West Campus – two perennial softball powers ranked No. 5 and No. 7, respectively, in the Sacramento area.
“We would like to work on and improve all facets of the game and continue to improve defensively, offensively and with our pitching, but it’s also a chance to get in a lot of innings before some big tests next week,” Zauner said. “It will allow us to confirm who will be starting and give us a chance to evaluate everyone’s play. We want to put the best team together that we can next week.”
Zauner does have a good idea, however, about the level of play his team is capable of playing after the Bruins (9-4) went 5-0 at the River City Tournament last weekend to win the tournament title. In each game Bear River, a relatively young squad this season, came from behind to nab the wins.
The Miners, on the other hand, are looking forward to the day of games as more of a chance to hit the diamond again and shake off some of the rust that has accumulated these past two weeks.
Nevada Union has not played a game since March 17th, a 3-0 win against Metro Conference foe McClatchy.
Because the tournament falls during the tail end of spring break, Nevada Union (6-8) will bring only nine players to the tournament. Two of the nine players, Rachelle Chan and Kayla Bennett, are pitchers.
“It (the challenge) will be a good time for our pitchers to stay in rhythm since they haven’t had live action in two weeks,” coach Darren Chan said. “We are also planning on working on some of our pick off plays and working on our short game – things like bunting and slapping.”
In addition to their team goals, the Bruins and the Miners are also looking forward to facing their neighbors – a situation that will most definitely put bragging rights on the line. With less than 20 miles between the two schools, the crown for best softball team in Nevada County is up for grabs.
“It’s always fun to play each other,” Chan said. “It’s a time to look forward to and I think we have created a little rivalry. Any chance the two teams get to play each other is pretty exciting.”
Bear River Pool Challenge:
9:00 Placer vs. Bear River
10:45 Nevada Union vs. Bear River
12:30 Placer vs. Nevada Union
2:15 Nevada Union vs. Bear River
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