SPRING CREEK – As the Spring Creek softball team prepares to hit the diamond for the 2019 season, the Lady Spartans will be under the instruction of a new coach.
Sandy Moon assumed the role of Spring Creek’s head coach, taking over for the departed Chad Nelms – who coached Lady Spartans for the past six seasons (2013-2019) – the Lady Spartans qualifying for the postseason in three times under Nelms (2013, 2016, 2018).
In 2018, the Lady Spartans won a third of their games – going 10-20 overall – Spring Creek also posting a .333 winning percentage in league play of the Division 3A North with an 8-16 mark.
Spring Creek qualified for the 3A North regional tournament for the first time since 2016 after a one-year absence from the postseason, the Lady Spartans finishing with the sixth and final seed to the playoffs.
The Lady Spartans went 0-2 at the regional tourney in Fallon, shut out in a 16-0 loss to the eventual state champions, the Lady Greenwave, on May 10, 2018, and falling 10-4 to No. 4 Dayton on May 11, 2018.
The Lady Spartans will regain the services of their 2018 2nd-Team All-League pitcher.
As a sophomore, Shawnee Walters-Haas assumed the workhorse role on the bump for the Lady Spartans – firing 109-1/3 innings – tossing 83-2/3 more frames than anyone on the staff.
She finished third in the league in strikeouts – fanning 87 batters against 32 free passes – punching out five or more batters in eight ballgames.
With seven wins and a 6.40 ERA, Walters-Haas tied for seventh in the 3A North in each category.
Some of her best outings on the mound came against Elko, giving the Lady Spartans a shutout victory for their first win of the series on April 24, 2018, in Spring Creek.
In a 9-1 loss in the first game of a doubleheader against the Lady Indians, she matched her season best of eight strikeouts without a walk, allowing one-earned run on nine hits over seven innings.
During the second game of the twin bill, she locked Elko down – allowing just four hits over seven innings of scoreless ball – striking out five batters against one free pass.
For the year, Walters-Haas’ opponents hit the ball at a .379 clip.
Toward the end of the season, she became more and more a key contributor to the Lady Spartans’ offense.
She batted .444 in 45 at-bats, driving in 16 runs and smacking two doubles.
On April 20, 2018, against Truckee, she drove in a season-best four runs and batted 3-for-4.
She posted three-plus RBIs in four ballgames, two of the occurrences coming against the Lady Wolverines.
The coach is not the only Nelms who will not be back for the Lady Spartans in 2019.
Spring Creek graduated 1st-Team All-State selection Paige Nelms, who led the 3A North with a .542 batting average, ranking .036 points better than anyone in the league.
She legged out six triples, the second-most three-baggers of anyone in the league, trailing only the seven triples by Dayton’s Tamia Powell.
Nelms’ .604 on-base percentage also placed second, finishing behind Fernley’s Reese Jones’ .605 clip by the slimmest-possible margin.
Adding five doubles, Nelms also sent six balls to unplayable areas over the outfield fences – tying for sixth in the 3A North in home runs.
She tied for eighth in the league with 45 hits, doing so in a significantly-fewer number of at-bats, due in large part to the fact that many of Spring Creek’s games against top-tier teams ended early because of mercy-rule losses.
By comparison, Lowry’s Alyssa Kuskie led the 3A North with 65 hits – coming in 134 at-bats – Nelms’ 45 knocks coming in 83 ABs.
Her .963 slugging percentage ranked fourth in the league.
Closing 16th in the league, Nelms scored 36 runs.
Nelms drove in 30 runs, finishing 19th in the 3A North, Lowry’s Sydney Connors topping the list with 57 runs driven in – using the contributions from the lineup around her to do damage with her own bat.
The Lady Buckaroos scored 355 runs as a team – the Lady Spartans mounting 161 – Lowry hitting a collective .417 compared to the .319 from Spring Creek’s lineup.
Once on the bases, Nelms did a notable job of advancing herself, stealing 14 bases, tying for fifth in the league.
Splitting her time defensively between center field and shortstop, Nelms ranked 18th in the league with an .898 fielding percentage.
On April 21, 2018, she drove in a season-high five runs and finished 2-for-3 with a home run against Truckee.
Each of her two hits against Dayton on March 31, 2018, in Spring Creek, left the yard, driving in four runs, also finishing with four RBIs on a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and a triple on March 21, 2018, against South Tahoe.
In her final game for the Lady Spartans, Nelms started the regional tournament contest on May 11, 2018, in Fallon, with a bang, smashing a leadoff home run and finishing 2-for-3 in a 10-4 loss to Dayton.
For her career, Nelms batted .443 (135 hits) with 91 RBIs, 24 doubles, 12 triples and 15 home runs.
In her first year of high school, Spring Creek freshman Jaycee Freyensee showed she has some serious pop when she barrels up a ball.
Freyensee hit 16 extra-base knocks, leading Spring Creek with 11 doubles – adding four home runs and a triple.
She tied for ninth in the league in two-baggers and 10th in homers.
For the season, she batted .370 and drove in 26 runs.
She earned an honorable mention for the league awards.
As a junior, Allie Thompson batted .380 and drove in 18 runs, finishing with six doubles.
A majority of Thompson’s hits were centered up, driven straight back up the middle between second and short – finishing the season with an honorable mention for the 3A North awards.
In limited action following a late-season call-up from the junior varsity as a freshman, Anessa Chiquete performed well for Spring Creek – batting .333 and driving in two runs with a triple and fielding the ball at 9-for-9 while playing in just eight games.
Spring Creek graduated its other honorable mention, second baseman Jade Conklin.
In her final season in purple and black, Conklin hit .250 and drove in six runs with a double.
Her fielding percentage sat at .850 and turned a team-high three double plays.
A number of players who did not graduate will not return for Spring Creek, now-senior catcher Lexi Voegele, now-senior third baseman Josie Corona and now-junior pitchers Nicole Southern and Amie Donham not on the 2019 roster.
Voegele hit .302 and drove in 16 runs, her three triples ranking second on the roster and adding two doubles.
Corona hit .254 with 10 RBIs, four doubles and a triple.
Over 25-2/3 innings, Southern’s ERA stood at 17.73 with a 1-5 record – Donham pitching only 14-1/3 innings but posting a 2-0 mark with a 14.16 ERA.
Junior Ashton Moon played in the outfield for the Lady Spartans as a sophomore, batting .250 with nine runs driven in.
Senior Rae Ann Chavez returns after playing first base, hitting .231 with five RBIs and a double.
Shortstop Hailey Watson – who can also catch – drove in 12 runs and hit two doubles and a triple with a .214 batting average during her sophomore season.
Now-senior Tatum York batted .214 and drove in five runs, hitting a double and a triple.
To replace four players who did not graduate but are not on the team, the Lady Spartans bring in a pair of 11th graders and two ninth graders – juniors Kendra Genseal and Patience Swafford and freshmen Janeigha Stutesman and Nyha Harris.
The Lady Spartans will open league play of the Division 3A North at 2 p.m. Friday, March 15, in Spring Creek, playing a two-game series against Lowry – first pitch for the second contest set for noon Saturday, March 16.