By Breven Honda
Following the conclusion of All Stars for White Pine Little League on the baseball side that saw the minors team win the District 3 championship, the girls were on the diamond looking to do the same in all three divisions.
All three softball teams advanced to the championship game as two were able to cash in for the title and the opportunity to advance.
Juniors combine pitching and offense for District 3 title
The oldest group competing in All-Stars for White Pine Little League softball rolled into the District 3 tournament in a two-team format after other teams backed out.
As a result, the double elimination tournament basically became a best-of-three series between White Pine and Elko Little League.
The offense got going in both games and defense was able to make quick work as White Pine defeated Elko 14-3 in the championship game on June 24.
Head coach Blake Hayward said the chemistry of the players works well as a result of the longevity.
“With this team you come to expect that because they’ve been playing since they were four years old,” Hayward said. “So, we’ve come to expect them to play solid defense and pitching. What I tell them is, ‘As long as they pitch field, hit and run, we’re going to win the game.’”
Hayward’s team put up 10 runs combined in the first two innings before the game concluded after five innings due to mercy rule.
On the night before, White Pine did a bit better.
Although Hayward’s team only put up nine runs through two innings, en route to a 17-0 shutout win, a never-forgetting memory was in the works from the circle.
Blake’s daughter, Paige, was putting together a masterful performance as she went nine up, nine down through three innings. In the fourth and final inning, White Pine was not only three outs away from a victory, but Paige was three batters away from a perfect game.
Ultimately, Paige and her team settled for a no-hitter after an error to third base occurred in the final inning with two outs.
“Once Paige is in that rhythm from the start of the game, you can pretty well sit back and grab your popcorn and watch the game because once she’s in that zone, she stays in that zone and there’s nothing that gets out,” Hayward said of his daughter.
With no state tournament at the junior level, White Pine advances to its second consecutive Western Regionals, which takes place in Tucson, Arizona. beginning on July 22.
Majors also advance, win district title in close match up with Elko
Like the juniors division, White Pine faced Elko in the championship game. On June 26, the White Pine majors team faced Elko for the second time in three days looking to claim victory early and avoid the “if necessary” game.
Facing Elko, White Pine got going early with three runs and led 4-1 heading into the fifth inning, which would be a frame filled with emotions on both sides.
White Pine plated four in their half of the fifth inning to extend the lead to seven.
However, Elko’s fight was not over yet as they would respond with five runs, cutting the deficit to two.
In the sixth and final inning, White Pine was unable to add any insurance heading to the bottom half and Elko’s last chance.
Elko scored once but it was not enough as White Pine claimed the District 3 Majors title to move on to the state tournament, which begins this weekend at the Battle Mountain Sports Complex about three hours northwest of Ely, along I-80.
The road for the White Pine majors team was not easy as they survived a 6-5 victory against Walker River on June 24, despite recording just three hits.
In White Pine’s opener, they used a four-run third inning and a seven-run fifth, en route to a 12-8 victory over Elko despite allowing 14 hits.
White Pine minors fall short in championship game
In White Pine’s lowest division competing in All-Stars, White Pine did not have the same journey as the two older teams losing its opener to Elko 13-3.
As a result, White Pine had to battle through the loser’s bracket of the three-team double elimination tournament format that also featured Fernley Youth, who would be White Pine’s next opponent.
With both teams facing elimination, it became a shoot-out at the dish to see which team would prevail and eventually move on. White Pine scored first but Fernley responded quickly with two runs to take the lead. The quick response was being matched on both sides. In the top of the third, Fernley plated five runs to take a 7-3 lead. However, White Pine continued its offensive approach with two runs in each of the third and fourth frames, hoping for a big inning as the game was tied at seven apiece entering the fifth.
With two full innings remaining, Fernley scored once in the top of the fifth. In White Pine’s offensive frame, that big inning finally came, putting up a crooked number larger than two. White Pine went through the lineup nearly twice in the fifth inning as they scored nine times to not only retake the lead, but blow the game open, leading to a 16-8 victory and a spot in the championship game.
In order to be the Nevada District 3 champions in the Minors division and go 3-for-3 with the major and junior levels, the White Pine minors were going to have to win twice against Elko.
White Pine was playing from behind throughout the game as they trailed 5-3 after the second and 8-6 after the fourth. The floodgates for Elko opened with an 11-run fifth inning and a 19-6 White Pine loss in the District 3 championship game that lasted five innings.