Fernley ruled the old 3A classification in softball before Fallon unseated the Vaqueros with back-to-back state titles in the past two years.
But Fernley on Friday exorcised some demons and took a big step toward claiming the first Division I-A state championship at UNLV.
The Vaqueros were aggressive at the plate and on the base paths in their seventh meeting this season with Fallon to take an 8-6 victory in the semifinals and bring them one win from the program’s fourth title.
“I feel like we have a lot of momentum going into (today). We just have to keep it going,” said Fernley junior Brooke Mattice, who had four hits and a pair of RBIs on Friday.
The Vaqueros will play Fallon again this morning.
The Greenwave must win twice to match the three-peat Fernley accomplished from 2007-09.
“We’ve been fighting them all year,” said Fernley coach Diane Chapin, who was ultra-aggressive with her base runners, sending them home from second on every opportunity and calling four successful stolen bases.
“This is big for these guys. This is the group (of seniors) that came in right after we won three in a row. So, they’ve been trying for a long time to get there.”
The Vaqueros are there thanks to 12 hits, including two big ones from No. 9 hitter Mercedes Rothwell, and the relief pitching of left-hander Kailey Daggitt.
Daggitt gave up two hits and struck out a pair in three innings to save the win for senior Jordan King.
“We knew if we limited errors and kept hitting the ball, we’d be all right. And that’s what they did,” Chapin said. “We’re lucky to have a pretty deep pitching staff, so we figured once they got one on, we could move in the other. Kailey had success against them earlier in the year, so we figured she could handle the job.”
Fernley now leads the season series with Fallon, 4-3, heading into today’s final matchup.
“It’s dog-eat-dog, cutthroat style right there,” Mattice said of the series.
The Greenwave bounced back to beat Faith Lutheran, 7-5, behind two hits and two RBIs from Kalyn Huckaby and seven strong innings from Rileigh Ricken, to earn their way out of the losers’ bracket and into the championship.
“We definitely have to fight (today),” Ricken said. “The big thing for us is hitting and getting on them early. We’re very capable of hitting their pitchers. We’ve done it before. … We look forward to taking them (to) both games and showing them what we’re made of.”