Long leads Bruins into battle with Patriots | TheUnion.com

Long leads Bruins into battle with Patriots

Photo for The Union by Walter Ford
Photo for The Union by Walter Ford |

There is no doubt about it. Nerissa Long is a rising star.

The freshman pitching phenom on the Bear River softball team has the skill set and the velocity to keep her Lady Bruin squad forging through the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.

In two career postseason games (1-1), both coming last week, Long allowed just two runs and struck out 24 along the way. She has continually put her team in a position to win, but now, with their backs against the wall and just one loss away from elimination, the question is: What other Lady Bruins will step up and help Bear River continue their playoff run?

Bear River head coach Jason Bohrer has said on multiple occasions that the Lady Bruin bats need to get going if their D-III title defense is to continue, but through two playoff games this season, Bear River has a total of two runs and just three hits.

Rachel Last has been the hot bat at the top of the lineup this season, and Bear River needs it to come alive in its elimination matchup with Pioneer today at the Sacramento Softball Complex. The junior second baseman leads Bear River with a .522 batting average, 17 RBIs and three dingers.

Freshmen Myah Shine, and Andrea Hardin as well as sophomore Mikayla Laymance and junior Dayna Byers have all shown they can be a threat at the plate. And, Long is no slouch herself with a .354 batting average.

Getting the bats going against Pioneer is easier said then done though as the Patriots bring a real threat from the circle in sophomore pitcher Angelica Dark. The impressive pitcher has a 1.22 ERA and a 9-1 record in league play.

Pioneer enters the contest having won a thrilling extra-inning affair with Whitney, 1-0, but losing to Antelope, 6-2, in the second round.

Pioneer boasts a team record of 20-6 and went 9-1 in the Tri-County League, claiming the 2013 title. The Patriots have a team batting average of .349, led by senior Tori Bellen who bats .500.

When facing Pioneer at 4 p.m. today, the Lady Bruins will be playing a team that is also in a win-or-go-home situation.

If Bear River gets past Pioneer, it will play a second game at 6 p.m. against the loser of the Cordova versus Antelope matchup. If Bear River wins that matchup, it will be into the championship game.

Win or lose, what this Lady Bruin squad has accomplished this season very few people could have predicted. After losing nine seniors from last season’s squad and coming back with a completely new starting lineup filled with freshmen and sophomores, then to go onto win the Pioneer Valley League title and be in the mix at the D-III tourney is remarkable. Oh, and did I mention this is Bohrer’s first year at the helm.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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