ELKO – One home series remains for the Elko softball team, and the opponent is the No. 1 ranked team in the land.
The Lady Indians (12-4 in league) will finish the regular season with a two-game slate against unbeaten Fernley (16-0 in 3A North).
Despite the unblemished record in league play, the Lady Vaqueros have gone through a couple scares – including one recently.
On April 26, Fernley played a doubleheader on the road at Dayton, the Lady Vaqueros winning the first game by a final score of 5-4 – needing three runs in the top of the eighth inning, escaping for the one-run win after giving up two runs in the home half.
Dayton did not go away in the second contest either, falling 6-3.
In the first half of a twin bill on March 28, Fernley earned another one-run victory – beating Lowry 4-3 before dominating the second contest 17-10.
For the season, Fernley is hitting .392 with a .467 on-base percentage.
Elko is currently hitting .333 – the average falling substantially after the Lady Indians went 2-for-17 last week in the first game of a two-game series in Lowry – the Lady Indians reaching base at an advantage of .484.
The Lady Vaqueros hit for power, smashing 19 home runs – seven girls driving at least one deep fly for the season.
Elko has connected on 11 shots that have left the yard, coming off the bats of five different players.
On the base paths, the attacks of each offense have been similar – Fernley stealing 39 bases, Elko swiping 31.
Defensively, the Lady Indians have played admirably all season long – fielding the ball at .917 currently.
However, the number dropped significantly after what was an uncharacteristic come-apart in Winnemucca.
Against Lowry, Elko committed seven errors in the first game and coughed up five more in the finale.
In losses of 13-0 and 16-9 to the Lady Bucks, just five of Lowry’s 13 runs in the first contest were earned.
In game two, nine of Lowry’s 16 runs were unearned.
Where Fernley has consistently held an advantage over Elko is on the mound, the Lady Vaqueros allowing 2.43 earned runs per game.
The Lady Indians’ pitching staff has combined for a 4.59 ERA.
Elko must hit the ball and pressure the Lady Vaqueros’ defense, which has tallied a .876 fielding percentage, and the Lady Indians must play clean defense against a lineup that routinely puts the ball in play and can spray hits around the field – especially hard shots to and over the outfield fence.
If the Lady Indians want to regain the No. 2 position and a first-round bye, Elko will likely need a sweep against the No. 1 team in the 3A North – which would be Fernley’s first losses in league play.
Lowry (13-3 in league) is virtually assured of a sweep, finishing the regular season at winless Truckee (0-15 in league).
In order to maintain its position in third, Elko will need at least a split of the two-game slate – as Fallon (11-5 in league) is coming up quickly in the rear view mirror and is closing the regular season at South Tahoe (2-13 in league).
If Elko drops to No. 4 or No. 5, a victory in the first round of the 3A North regional tournament would place the winner up against No. 1 Fernley in the second round.
The first contest of the two-game slate between Elko and Fernley will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, at Newton Field.
Senior day for Kenzie Ratliff, Lauryn Guenin, Avery Jorgenson, Kaitlyn Rizo and Jacqueline Pete will take place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the series closing with a ballgame at noon.