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MESQUITE – The Elko girls softball team’s season began well, got shaky but ended with a victory.

The Lady Indians opened 9-1 advantage Thursday over defending Division 1A state runner-up Wells during the Virgin Valley Tournament in Mesquite, only to see the Lady Leopards come from the depths of despair and nearly win the ballgame.

Elko held on for a 9-8 win in the season opener, surviving a seven-run rally by the Lady Leopards.

Playing as the away team, Elko tore off a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

The first RBI of the season was provided by junior Kaitlyn Rizo on a groundball, scoring senior Mollie Gallagher.

The Lady Indians plated their next three runs with a two-out rally.

Rizo came home on a line-drive single by junior Lauryn Guenin to right field, and Elko loaded the bases with a walk drawn by sophomore Caresse Basaraba.

The next two Elko runs were a result of a Wells error in left field on a fly ball by senior Riley Harris, junior Jacqueline Pete and Guenin standing on the gas for a 4-0 advantage.

Elko retired Wells in order in the bottom of the first, and the Lady Indians grabbed a 5-0 lead in the top of the second – using an RBI groundout by junior Kenzie Ratliff to score Gallagher’s second run of the game.

Wells mounted just one runner in the bottom of the second – coming on a single by senior Samantha Shamblin – and Elko’s lone hit in the top of the third came off Basaraba’s bat.

The Lady Leopards plated their first run of the season in two-out fashion in the bottom of the third, the rally started by consecutive singles from seniors Keegan Laughlin and Kendra Franco.

A fly-ball single by junior Laila Jackson drove in Laughlin, but Franco was gunned down at third base on a throw from Pete to Ratliff.

Junior Alexis Elquist reached on a leadoff error by Wells at shortstop in the top of the fourth inning, but she was caught stealing home for the third out on a play by Jackson at catcher for the Lady Leopards.

The Lady Leopards fell in succession in the bottom of the fourth, and Elko followed with a big top-half in the fifth.

Pete drove a leadoff single, followed by a one-out knock by Guenin – the duo taking second and third base on a passed ball.

Another passed ball allowed Pete to cross the dish for a 6-1 lead, and Basaraba singled to right field and drove in Guenin for a 7-1 advantage.

With runners on second and third, Elko used a Wells error at third base to its benefit on a grounder by Gallagher – Basaraba dashing to the plate.

With two outs, a base knock by Rizo drove in Harris – Elko taking a 9-1 lead but ending the inning on the base paths on a throw from junior Betty Aboite to Franco at second base.

With the games of the tournament on a time limit, Elko’s eight-run lead appeared safe, better think again.

Wells went off in the bottom half of the fifth.

Senior Ady Prado led off with a single to second base, and sophomore Julianne right reached on an error at first base.

Elko recorded an out, but Prado scored on a passed ball – and a two-RBI double by Franco set the ball in motion for Wells.

The two-bagger drove in Wright and sophomore Jackie Berumen, pulling the Lady Leopards to within five at 9-4.

Jackson singled to shortstop, and a single by senior Lacye Pearson drove in Franco, 9-5.

She scored on a passed ball, Aboite was intentionally walked and Prado singled to right field and drove in Pearson, 9-7.

Elko stopped the bleeding with a flyout to Pete at shortstop, but Wells was not done.

Shamblin scored on a fielder’s choice on a groundball by Berumen, pulling the Lady Leopards to within one at 9-8.

With the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second, the Lady Indians escaped the bottom of the fifth frame with a flyout to right field on a catch by sophomore Dariahn Primeaux.

Elko built an eight-run lead, gave up a seven-run rally and escaped with a 9-8 victory in the season opener for both clubs.

Rizo led the Lady Indians with two RBIs on a 2-for-3 day at the plate, Franco topping Wells’ lineup with a 2-for-3 effort and a double for two RBIs of her own – her two-bagger serving as the only extra-base hit of the game for either team.

Along with Rizo, the Lady Indians had four players notch multiple hits – Basaraba going 2-for-2 and Guenin and Pete each finishing 2-for-3 and crossing the plate twice apiece.

Gallagher tied for the team high with two runs scored for Elko.

Prado and Jackson each closed with 2-for-3 performances at the dish for the Lady Leopards.

ELKO – 410 04 – 9 8 1

WELLS – 001 07 – 8 11 6

The Lady Indians will look to improve to 2-0 against defending 1A state champion Pahranagat Valley at noon Friday, while Wells will look for its first win of the season at 10 a.m. Friday against tournament host Virgin Valley.


Sports editor and reporter

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