It was looking like déjà vu in the Northern Region Division I softball championship Saturday at Bishop Manogue.
Just like in their previous meeting the day before, Reed’s Julia Jensen and Spanish Springs’ Hayley Fein were dealing their best pitches and the teams were deadlocked at 0-0.
But then the fifth inning happened — and the similarities stopped.
Reed scored four runs off six hits and two walks (one with the bases loaded) to take a 4-0 lead. Fein was pulled after 42/3 innings and Reed never looked back, taking a 6-0 win to claim the program’s fourth straight regional championship.
“They’re all special, but the most current (title) is always more special,” Reed head coach Jon Wunder said. “For a couple of our seniors, this is four in a row for them and that’s pretty darn special. To not give up a run in four games against some pretty good teams is great.”
Senior Alysha Imperato got things going for the Raiders in the bottom of the fifth with a double down the left-field line to score Kenzi Goins from second to take a 1-0 lead. A two-run single to center field by senior Alexis Gonzales put the Raiders up 3-0.
“Hits are contagious,” Wunder said. “Usually, all you have to do is give (Jensen) a couple runs and she’s pretty good.”
Reed dominated throughout the regional tournament and outscored its opponents by a combined 19-0 over four games.
Jensen put the finishing touches on her dominant regional tournament Saturday with 15 strikeouts and just two hits over seven innings. Her final stat line for the tournament was 29 innings, zero runs, four hits, four walks and 48 strikeouts.
“We just had to keep pushing,” Jensen said. “I just wanted to stay tough so I could keep my team in it. I knew if I could stay tough and our defense could stay tough that we could win.”
Spanish Springs couldn’t put the ball in play with Jensen on the mound, and head coach Jeff Davidson says that will be his team’s top priority going into the Division I state tournament.
“We made a few adjustments, but not enough,” Davidson said. “That’s something we’ll have to work on in practice next week … putting the ball in play to give us an opportunity. We weren’t doing that the two times we faced (Jensen) this week.”
Despite pulling Fein, Davidson said he has complete faith in his ace.
“Hayley has pitched great, but they were just timing her right,” Davidson said. “I figured, ‘OK, we still have next week.’ Hayley is throwing well again. Give credit to Reed. They deserved it, they earned it, and we’ll see them next week.”
Both Reed and Spanish Springs qualified for the state tournament next week at Hixson Field. Reed is looking for a second straight state championship.