Neighborhood pool party – Bruins, Miners, Hillmen meet in pool challenge
No question about it, Nevada Union pitcher Kayla Bennett wanted the win. The only problem? She had to fight off a case of the giggles each time she faced one of her teammates from a summer traveling team.
Bennett, a freshman, is joined by six freshmen varsity softball players at Bear River during the summer and fall months to play for a Grass Valley-based traveling team called the “Extreme.”
Thus, pitching against Bear River, at the Bear River Pool Challenge Friday, made for an even more intense experience than the normal neighborly rivalry the cross-county matchup usually provides.
“It was fun, but I definitely had a hard time trying not to laugh while I pitched to them,” Bennett said. “It makes it harder to play when you know the other team so well, but I think it also makes you better.”
Bear River’s starting pitcher for game one of the Miner-Bruin doubleheader faced the same pressure, as freshman Kelly Shepard also plays with Bennett on the Extreme team.
Shepard admitted that the situation made her a bit tense during the first two innings as she gave up four runs. She did, however, calm down to allow just three hits in the next three innings, while also recording three strikeouts.
“I like to play people I know and I love playing Nevada Union,” Shepard said. “It was really fun to bat against Kayla and to get her out when she came up to bat against me.”
Nevada Union won the first game of the doubleheader 4-2. The Bruins sent eight batters to the plate during the fourth inning and scored two runs, but could never get any closer. Nevada Union’s Kayla Olson was the game’s only player to notch multiple hits, as she had two singles in addition to scoring a run.
Max Bennett, Kayla’s dad and an assistant coach for Nevada Union, coaches the traveling team and admitted he also enjoyed the friendly rivalry ” especially after his Miners came out on top during the first game with Kayla pitching.
“It’s fun for me to see how the players have improved during their
high school season,” Max Bennett said. “I think it’s good for a travel team to break apart during the high school season and experience playing with other girls and for other coaches. It makes everyone better.”
To begin the day, Bear River beat Placer 3-1 and in the second game of the Challenge, the Miners also beat Placer by a score of 5-0.
Nevada Union also won game two, downing the Bruins 4-2.
“It was a mimic of the first game,” said Bruin head coach Duane Zauner. “We only scored in four of the 19 innings we played today.
“I thought we played flat, but give the credit to Nevada Union. They came out and got the hits they needed, which is what this game is all about.”
In addition to playing some fun innings against against their rival schools, both Nevada Union and Bear River met their tournament goals.
Nevada Union was able to get in some innings after a two-week break and the Bruins faced a tough Miner squad to prepare them for a difficult week of league play against Mira Loma and West Campus.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.